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To wonder if I should have said/done something in response to this punishment comment

(39 Posts)
givemushypeasachance Tue 04-Oct-11 22:46:30

I was on a training day at work and there were a few of us from different teams, mostly who I didn't know personally. A discussion arose about "the funny things children do" and someone talked about their toddler picking up swear words from hearing a parent swearing in the car. Someone else then said that when their DD (now 4yo) had sworn at an unspecified time in the past, she had washed her mouth out with soap - she was specific and said "I actually put soap in her mouth" so it wasn't just a turn of phrase.

I really didn't know what to say - I only met this person today, she's mid-thirties, seems nice, she works in the building but I've never even spoken to her before. I don't have kids myself so I really don't like to go around offering "parenting advice", but a former role I had in this organisation involved some child safeguarding work - making referrals to children's services and so on if we became aware of the people we worked (professional carers) with were alleged to have smacked children or might have been neglecting them, and so on. I have personally known of several cases where colleagues made referrals about allegations that carers washed children's mouths out with detergent - it would really be considered very, very poor behaviour management bordering on abuse, and something we were obliged to make a referral about. Mostly it seems to be done by people who just have a very 50's attitude to punishments and don't realise that sort of thing isn't acceptable anymore, who were doing it in a "loving parent making the punishment fit the perceived crime" kind of way rather than being deliberately sadistic, but it is a really horrible physical punishment to inflict on a small child and I wish more people thought it through before doing it.

I wouldn't think that a one-off mention of this sort of thing in the context of a parent and not a professional carer should have me running to phone social services, but I'm feeling a bit awkward about not having said something to the woman after the training session. Was I right to keep quiet or should I try to arrange to bump into her and quietly mention that she might want to read up on what sort of punishments are significantly less socially acceptable these days?

sneakybeak Tue 04-Oct-11 22:52:08

I think you're overthinking it TBH.

HuwEdwards Tue 04-Oct-11 22:52:34

This really isn't a slight at you, but I don't think I would've been able to have hidden my shock and would probably have said something like. "No way, you are joking, surely?" And would no doubt, have made a jaw-dropping face.

It's shocking but as you say not proof she is a regular abuser of her child, so I think you have to drop it. Thing is, I think you missed the boat. Not sure how in a chance meeting you could bring it up really.

scaryteacher Tue 04-Oct-11 23:02:27

Keep quiet - it's none of your business.

givemushypeasachance Tue 04-Oct-11 23:04:34

HuwEdwards - I'm a bit "non-commitally nod and smile" when I'm talking to people I don't really know anyway, and it just came out of nowhere and all I could think to say back to her was "You do realise that if you worked in childcare I'd be obliged to ring social services now, right?". But I always feel that way when people mention smacking their children which is the same in that it equals a child protection investigation and sacking for a nursery assistant, but is fine for a parent to do...

troisgarcons Tue 04-Oct-11 23:05:53

"I actually put soap in her mouth"

Your grandmother and great grandmother and great great grandmother probably did exactly the same thing.

And you are over thinking the whole thing.

anothermum92 Tue 04-Oct-11 23:08:38

Message withdrawn

runningwilde Tue 04-Oct-11 23:08:50

Well I think what she did is disgusting and bordering on abuse. I don't know what I would do but I would think about ringing childline and asking their advice tbh as if she does that what else does she do?! That poor child! Get some advice x

givemushypeasachance Tue 04-Oct-11 23:09:16

sneaky and scary (nice unexpected name match!) - I do get that, it's not my child, I don't really know the woman, none of my beeswax and so on but I do find it very strange that some people consider that it is not just okay to still put chemical detergents in a child's mouth - sometimes forcing them to drink it - but that it's a funny thing to include in a casual chat about the things your kids get up to! People don't seem to jokingly describe how they force their kids to have cold showers or other similarly old-fashioned and unpleasant punishments.

givemushypeasachance Tue 04-Oct-11 23:16:01

I've just looked it up because I thought I remembered a case where a woman in the US was arrested after taking her child to hopsital with vomiting after doing it - it happened back in 2009. The article I read talked about "hotsaucing" as well - putting hot sauce on a child's tongue for swearing or lying. Who first thought that would be a constructive thing to do I don't know - with all of this you rely on being bigger and strong than the child to hold them down, or in some other way making them stay still while you do it and then make them feel sick or hurt.

Previous generations doing it is not really an argument I subscribe to, since if you go back another generation or two then you'll reach a time when slavery was accepted and people were hung for stealing a loaf of bread. The perception of what it is acceptable to do to your children in the name of bringing them up properly and teaching them right from wrong changes.

sneakybeak Tue 04-Oct-11 23:20:47

I haven't ever done it, and I wouldn't condone it. I honestly think if you'd witnessed it it'd feel different, and then reporting it might be the next step.

I think people say stuff, embelish the story, don't think through the consequences, show off....

If you honestly knew the child was/had been abused that's different, but I don't think this is the case.

NorfolkBroad Tue 04-Oct-11 23:21:23

I think that is absolutely vile behaviour. Yes, we all have different ideas in terms of what is appropriate where discipline is concerned but that crosses a line. Yes, I would say something about it if I were you.

sunnydelight Tue 04-Oct-11 23:22:04

I would have mentioned it to the trainer personally then left him/her to deal with it. Most training courses have some agreement about confidentiality so the only appropriate thing to do is raise the issue with the person running the course, you really shouldn't be talking about it afterwards.

IneedAbetterNickname Tue 04-Oct-11 23:25:27

My Mum did it to my brother, well put soap on his toothbrush and then brushed his teeth hmm and while I would argue that it didnt do him anyharm, I also wouldn't dream of doing it to my children.

RIZZ0 Tue 04-Oct-11 23:27:24

"Keep quiet - it's none of your business."

Wow, just wow.

You're the ideal neighbour for someone who does those things to their kids.

givemushypeasachance Tue 04-Oct-11 23:28:35

sunnydelight - it was IT package training, we were just having a chat in a break when we moved onto toddlers coming out with "fuck it!" when on a bus and the driver used their horn - copying what their mum would say when she was driving. Very much non-course related discussion!

sneakybeak Tue 04-Oct-11 23:28:55

What are you more concerned about? The action of the punishment, or the fact you didn't feel able to say something at the time?

Problem with public sector working (which is where I presume you're employed?) is that it's a small world. I work in the NHS and bumped into my nemesis today on a training course. Can't stand her. Wasn't expecting to see her, but there she was.

My point is that by raising it, she might deny it/dismiss it but never let you forget you've bee a 'grass', and it could bite you on the bum at a later date.

sneakybeak Tue 04-Oct-11 23:30:55

But Rizz0, it was a chat at break. I used to work in SS (sorry), but this kind of conversation would be difficult to take further. As I said, if it'd been witnessed, then there's more of a 'case' IYSWIM.

freddy05 Tue 04-Oct-11 23:32:00

A relative of mine puts pepper in her kids mouths if the use 'bad' words, she pours it in their mouths and then they are not allowed to have a drink for atleast 10 mins. She told us this more than once and her partner thinks it's funny but I horrified and I have told her each time that it just isn't on but other people have just laughed along with her.

It's hard to know what to do in situations where you're concerned about other peoples children :-(

givemushypeasachance Tue 04-Oct-11 23:33:15

Oh I still don't know...

If I saw someone pouring a tablespoon full of fairy liquid in their child's mouth in the cleaning products aisle of the supermarket then I would at the very least call store security if not the police. But I appreciate that I don't have the full story here and she seemed like a caring mother who just has a weird idea about the appropriateness of an old-fashioned and frankly I'd still say quite cruel punishment.

I'll probably casually talk to my line manager at work about it tomorrow and see what they think about the whole thing.

RIZZ0 Tue 04-Oct-11 23:33:21

Sure, I've not actually passed comment on whether she should report it. Didn't get that far as I was too repulsed by the "shut up and mind your own business attitude" up thread.

sneakybeak Tue 04-Oct-11 23:35:02

Nobody told OP to shut up. It's just not straightforward.

givemushypeasachance Tue 04-Oct-11 23:37:04

Sneakybeak - it is true that I do feel awkward in myself about not having said or done something as well as feeling bad about the actual incident having evidently occured at some point. As I posted above in a former role I would have been obliged to refer this sort of stuff to social services if it came up with a "client", and it seems to hit those bells that always come up in safeguarding/diversity training about the importance of challenging inappropriate comments and behaviour - which I always smugly tick that yes of course I would challenge anything inappropriate that I came across and here I am dithering!

RIZZ0 Tue 04-Oct-11 23:38:55

"It's hard to know what to do in situations where you're concerned about other peoples children".

No it's not. That is abuse. Children are vulnerable and rely on adults to care for them. An adult who stands by and lets this happen because it could be a bit awkard, or they might lose a friend is failing that child.

Now the OP could have heard a story at work that isn't really true, or exaggerated, but you know that your "friend" pours pepper in her children's mouths and makes them sit there burning for 10 minutes whilst her partner bascally laughs at them. Fucking shame on you.

RIZZ0 Tue 04-Oct-11 23:40:09

Sneaky you're splitting hairs:

scaryteacher Tue 04-Oct-11 23:02:27
Keep quiet - it's none of your business.

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