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Should I report this incident to the school or mind my own business?

(60 Posts)
happy2bhomely Tue 19-Jul-11 12:29:04

Walking home from school last week after picking the kids up we were walking behind a mum and her children. I recognise this mum from the playground but don't know her name or children's names. The children looked about 6/7 and 2/3. If I'm honest, I had already judged her to be not coping very well. She is always late and looks tired and thin. Her children look fine though.

Anyway, mum was pushing empty buggy, little one trailing further behind popping into gardens and generally dragging feet like they do. Older child was trying to hurry him up. Mum then turns round and screams "Get in the fucking buggy now!" She notices me and carries on, "I said get in the fucking buggy! Keep on and see what happens, for fucks sake. I'm going to fucking knock you out!" Little one struggles from her and runs down road screaming. She catches up and holds onto him. He hits her. She says "fucking hit me again and you will get it twice as hard!"

By this time, we were overtaking them. I kind of half smiled as I passed. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to ask if she needed help. I wanted to ask her to stop it. I just walked past. We went into the shop and I could hear her screaming as they passed. My eldest had tears in his eyes and said "mum, can't we just take him home?" I told him kids were hard work sometimes and maybe she was having a bad day. He said that he didn't care, and she was too scary to be a mum.

AIBU if I mention this to the school? I wish I had been brave enough to say something to her. I can't stop thinking about those kids.

GypsyMoth Tue 19-Jul-11 12:31:19

Without her name, how can you identify her?

worraliberty Tue 19-Jul-11 12:32:06


I understand how heartbreaking it is when you see/hear that sort of thing but what can the school do about it?

happy2bhomely Tue 19-Jul-11 12:33:26

I don't know! She is never with anyone else in the playground and my kids don't recognise hers. It just feels wrong not saying anything.

MissPenteuth Tue 19-Jul-11 12:33:53

Well, all you saw was her swearing at the child, she didn't actually hit him so you don't know that she has/would. I know what you mean about wanting to offer to help, but you don't want her to think that you're implying that she can't cope. It's tricky; unpleasant to see and makes me sad for the kids but not really enough to report, imo.

TheOriginalFAB Tue 19-Jul-11 12:34:42

It seems to me she was crying out for help.

happy2bhomely Tue 19-Jul-11 12:36:26

My DH has said the same-that she didn't actually DO anything so there is nothing to report. It was very upsetting to see and I have no idea what I'm expecting the school to do!

fedupofnamechanging Tue 19-Jul-11 12:37:24

That is so sad. There are so many children that you just want to take home with you.

Maybe she is one of those women whose every other word is 'fuck', so although it is hideous that she uses it to her DC, it doesn't automatically follow that she is abusive in a physical sense, given that she didn't actually hit her child when he hit her.

Or am I clutching at straws?

happy2bhomely Tue 19-Jul-11 12:41:03

I know she was crying out for help-I feel awful for not offering but I had my own 4 with me and didn't know how she would react. She was being really aggressive. I know what she was doing was wrong but I completely empathised with her. I have felt how I imagine she might feel, but I've never behaved like that.

Georgimama Tue 19-Jul-11 12:42:13

Does your son know the name of the 6/7 year old?

Whether she is physically abusive or not it doesn't sound like she is coping. It's not really the school's problem but as they will have someone whose responsibility it is to make any child protection report needed to SS, I would find out who that is and have a word with them. She may of course already be known to SS.

happy2bhomely Tue 19-Jul-11 12:46:45

My kids don't recognise them. I have seen her once with a black eye, but I know I can't pretend to know what her situation is. I feel for her tbh. She looks quite young but 'worn' iyswim? I wonder if SS are involved already? I hope so for all of their sakes.

cookcleanerchaufferetc Tue 19-Jul-11 14:49:06

If you can find out who she is I would tell the school. Worst case they do nothing or it was just a really really bad day. Or there could be serious issues at home and having this bought to the schools attention allows them to take it further.

I think you have a responsibiity to tell the school. Good luck identifying her!

valiumredhead Tue 19-Jul-11 15:13:00

I understand how heartbreaking it is when you see/hear that sort of thing but what can the school do about it?

I think the school would take this seriously if you can provide a name.

Sarsaparilllla Tue 19-Jul-11 16:02:26

Could you try and get chatting to her next time you see her in the playground and take it from there? Sounds like she's struggling but involving the school might not be appropriate as the first move?

JamieAgain Tue 19-Jul-11 16:04:57

I would appraach the Child Protection Officer at school and have a word.

JamieAgain Tue 19-Jul-11 16:08:07

worraliberty. The school will be interested in any information that's relevant to the well-being of a child. They may not do anything at all, but they will keep a note of any concerns they have about a child's behaviour in school, or any information other people bring to them. In fact they have a duty to do that.

manicinsomniac Tue 19-Jul-11 16:12:03

I don't know, swearing at your child is not illegal. I know some very loving and good parents who swear at their kids all the time just as a part of their vocabulary.

She does sound like she isn't coping but I don't know if there would be anything concrete that the school could base an action on.

JamieAgain Tue 19-Jul-11 16:13:38

The school may do nothing - yet - but it may. It may be another piece of information to add to a picture they have. You have a duty to report it to them.

JamieAgain Tue 19-Jul-11 16:14:16

Anyway - the school doesn't "do" anything, other than take advice from SS

rockinhippy Tue 19-Jul-11 16:18:31

I've had a similar experience in the past, though Nursery, not at School - DD was heartbroken for the little girl who was being dragged like a doll & sworn & screamed at in the way you described, it was sickening to see, poor little might did nothing to deserve it but like you I felt for the parent too as they obviously weren't coping well - DD told me her Dad had witnessed the same - whch he confirmed & that the parent always spoke to the DD that way sad

Like you I didn't have a lot to go on as the DC wasn't in DDs group, & it was a large Nursery, but I DID mention it to the Nursery with as much info as I could give, as I would never have forgiven myself if anything really bad happened & I hadn't spoken out - the Nursery took it very seriously, turned out they knew straight away who the DC was & that what I told them made a lot of sense as regards the DCs behaviour at Nursery ( I later found out the DC was aggressive with other DCs) - this is very likely the case with this DC too, so chances are the School will be glad of the information & will be able to set the wheels of support in motion

In our case the parent got the help they obviously needed, but were too proud to ask for & years later we still often see them around town now - VERY different now though - a lovely happy smiling DC & parent too smile

so IME don't hesitate - speak out to the School

happy2bhomely Tue 19-Jul-11 17:18:35

I'm going to keep an eye out for her at school, maybe Ill see her about over the summer. Hopefully it was a bad day and a one off. If I see anything else to worry about, I will inform the school.

I know this is very selfish and judgemental but I don't really want to befriend someone like that. God that sounds awful doesn't it? I am a judgemental person. I'm not proud of it. I try not to be and I keep my opinions to myself, but I know that I am. I don't mind being friendly, but I don't want to be friends. I hate to think she might not have anyone for support though-God I'm a bitch sometimes....

valiumredhead Tue 19-Jul-11 17:52:21

Swearing is not illegal but threatening to knock one's child out is cause for concern imo.

Andrewofgg Tue 19-Jul-11 17:54:51


JamieAgain Tue 19-Jul-11 17:57:19

Nothing bad will happen if you talk to the school. You might possibly help the child.

EssexGurl Tue 19-Jul-11 18:05:29

Surely you should try to talk to the mum first before involving the school? Next time you are passing them and one of the kids is playing up, ask her if you can help. Not saying you have to befriend her but trying to understand her and what is going on is surely better than just going to school with a bit of non-specific gossip.

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