What Would You Do if Someone Slapped Your Kid?

Passenger who slapped toddler on airplane stirring up a lot of revenge fantasies

This has gone viral already since last week, and thanks to Designer Daddy’s revenge fantasy piece, it has lit up the Dad Bloggers network I’m a part of. To summarize, this “executive” from Idaho is now facing federal charges for slapping a 19-month-old boy on an airplane. The boy was crying as the flight descended. The mother and child seated next to the man, Joe Rickey Hundley, suffered racial slurs from the man before he fully lost it and slapped the kid in the face.

ABC News ran an interview with the family: the mother is still shook up and the dad…well, the dad is reacting the way most men are reacting to the story. Some of the responses from our group have included willingly accepting jail time to take care of such a threat to tying the jagoff to a tree near a playground and letting the squirrels have at him. (OK, so I wrote that, and now that I’m sharing it with the world, I should retract, or at least edit to say that I would make sure there were no kids to witness such a playground mob.)

What would you do if a stranger smacked your kid or roughed them up in any way? Has anyone had to encounter this?

It’s easy to say what we’d do from behind a computer screen. This type of public aggravation isn’t uncommon. Crying kids on planes are a nuisance. (What part of air travel isn’t?) Two weeks ago we ran a piece on AirAsia introducing child-free zones on its flights; parents responding to the article were almost unanimous in support of it. The US carriers won’t be far behind in implementing this.

It doesn’t justify this guy’s behavior. Would our reaction to him be justified? If it happened to me in reality, I might be so dumbstruck, so instinctively prone to protect my kid, I don’t know if I’d do anything other than run away. The wisest course of action would be what? To tell on him? Isn’t that what we tell our kids when faced with a bully?

What I suspect I would do might be as horrendous as what this guy did. Would I feel better about fighting this guy in front of my kid?

Absolutely. This is a rare instance where violence justifies violence.

Thoughts? How would you have reacted? Or, how have you reacted?

—photo ABC News

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About Robert Duffer

Robert Duffer (www.robertduffer.com) is the editor of the Dads & Families section of The Good Men Project. Winner of the Chicago Public Library's writing contest, his work appears in the Chicago Tribune, MAKE Magazine, Chicago Reader, Curbside Splendor, Time Out Chicago, Chicago Public Radio, Annalemma, New City, and other coffee-table favorites like Canadian Builders Quarterly. He teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago and lives in the suburbs with his wife, two kids, and their minivan. Follow @DufferRobert, Google+, facebook.

Comments

  1. Kids need good examples. They also need to know that you got their back. You got to protect your kid and make sure anyone who is a threat isn’t going to be a threat again. On an airplane, that is easy: you call for help. On a playground or the street you might have to do more and then call for help. We have a fight or flight response for a reason, and this is it.

    -M

  2. wellokaythen says:

    Let’s do everything we can to keep our children safe — no more babies on airlines….

    • Kathryn DeHoyos says:

      I don’t agree that we shouldn’t have kids on airlines, I would never see my family if we couldn’t fly with kids…But I do think the AirAsia idea is a great one! I would go for it in a heartbeat!

      • wellokaythen says:

        Would *never* see your family? There’s no babysitters where you are? Your family can’t visit you? No buses, trains, boats, cars? (I guess that could be flipped around on me as well — if I don’t want to fly with kids, then I should rent a car or charter my own plane….)

        I was joking about banning all kids or seating them on the wings. At least 90% joking. At least.

        • Jessica Warner says:

          Easy way to solve crying infants on planes…pop a tit in their mouth. As soon as the plane starts to take off and the fascination has run out for my son I’d pop a boob in his mouth and he’d sleep til’ we land…every.single.time. Breastfeeding FTW.

          • My boob was a bit hairy but we used the bottle each time, made sure they were hungry on takeoff. Toddler was a little more difficult, though lollipops as a reward usually helped with the ear popping. Its difficult flying with toddlers, esp in winter; we try to take morning flights only in winter to minimize chance for delay.

            • Ha! Whenever anyone asks if which one of us (2 dads) breast fed JJ, my answer is “We took turns, but he always ended up with hair in his mouth.”

  3. I think I would make some sort of announcement if this happened:
    “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until I have concluded the kicking of this guy’s ass. When he stops crying for help, this will indicate that his ass whooping has come to a complete halt and it is once again safe for you to move about the cabin.

    At that time, I will ask that you please check around your seat for any of his personal belongings which may have been knocked away during the fight. You may keep them. Sir, could you please stand up?”

  4. wellokaythen says:

    If it takes a village to raise a child, then you gotta watch out who else is in your village….

  5. wellokaythen says:

    Ironic, considering the assailant was acting out his own violence fantasy….

  6. Hey could hit me all he wants. I won’t fight a person in front of my kids. If he touched my wife/child. I’d slap him silly

  7. Sure, a kid crying on a flight is annoying, but it’s a baby and they don’t know better. I’d much rather sit behind a screaming child than beside a whiny and rude adult complaining about everything. Can we force THOSE loudmouths to sit in their own self-entitled zone?

  8. I would do whatever I could to avoid fighting in front of my kids, want to teach them violence does not solve problems. But they also need to know that I would do anything in my power to keep them safe. I’m a big believer in peace…I’ve served 18 years in the military because I believe a strong defense is necessary for peace. The world is an ugly place, mankind is flawed. Sometimes a show of force is necessary in defense of freedom and human rights.

  9. Before the self-righteous pileup grows TOO high, I’ll answer the question.

    “What would you do if someone slapped your kid?”
    A: It depends; did he deserve it?

    And before someone reacts with the predictable outraged, shocked declaration “Oh no–there can be NO excuse, EVER, for striking a child!”… get real. Of course there can. What if your kid is beating up another kid? What if he’s screaming in someone’s ear? What if he’s grabbing or damaging someone else’s property for the fifth time in five minutes? What if he’s throwing a tantrum for the sheer thrill of it, knowing that you ‘won’t dare’ take any serious steps to stop him in a public place?

    Children are not rational beings; they’re halfway between human and animal, and your job as a parent is to civilize them. If they’re not at the point where they respond to reason yet, they must be handled with physical training, just like a pet. Light, but firm physical correction is often the appropriate way to handle some situations.

    • @Copyleft, you don’t have kids do you? Either that, or you are a parent the believes in physical discipline (aka physical abuse). Of the examples you present, the only time I personally feel a physical solution is warranted is to restrain a child that is posing a danger to his/herself or another. PERIOD.

      I have 32 kid-years of parenting experience…it is sad that you think physical violence is necessary to “civilize” a child. Violence begets violence… and I’m no perfect person myself, there are often times when I feel like I could slap the shit out of one of my kids (okay, getting a little lost in that thought)…but I am civilized and teaching children that sometimes violence DOES solve problems is not how I choose to raise my well-adjusted kids. I choose to overcome the instinct to lash out with violence, instead I look for a more rational way to correct behavior deficiencies.

      It sounds like you have some anger issues and you probably shouldn’t own pets or have children.

    • @Copyleft, you don’t have kids do you? Either that, or you are a parent the believes in physical discipline (aka physical abuse). Of the examples you present, the only time I personally feel a physical solution is warranted is to restrain a child that is posing a danger to his/herself or another. PERIOD.

      I have 32 kid-years of parenting experience…it is sad that you think physical violence is necessary to “civilize” a child. Violence begets violence… and I’m no perfect person myself, there are often times when I feel like I could slap the shit out of one of my kids (okay, getting a little lost in that thought)…but I am civilized and teaching children that sometimes violence DOES solve problems is not how I choose to raise my well-adjusted kids. I choose to overcome the instinct to lash out with violence, instead I look for a more rational way to correct behavior deficiencies.

  10. I’d have reduced the chances of him hitting my child by seating my son on the aisle seat and me taking the middle. Or if I had the window seat and middle I’d have taken the middle and placed my son at the window. Either way, I’d always be between my son and a stranger and he’d have to reach over me to touch my kid. I think that would be enough of a barrier to deter him.

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