It’s not ok to ignore kids gone berserk in public

By Zhang Yuning Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/15 20:03:40

Photo: IC

All of us have come across little ones creating public pandemonium, while parents look the other way. But what would you do? Most tend to ignore.

This is exactly what happened when a few young foreign children were seen horsing around a subway train, swinging while dangling from overhead handrails in Shanghai earlier this week. Passengers around kept silent. Yet the short video of the scene went viral on the internet. 

Many people have had the experience (or misfortune!) of sitting next to a wild child on public transport. He or she tends to speak loudly and run around. Some such kids may even knock over their snacks or drinks. 

When facing such squealing and juvenile aggression, most people would not squirm and let it be. For them, as long as there is no emergency, not stepping over other parents' boundaries would be the natural choice. 

But after becoming a parent, I know that every child could go through rebellious stages (the troublesome 2s being one), during which parents might be filled with frustration and helplessness. But I believe no matter how intransigent the brat is, letting the kid know that he/she is not disliked is the best benevolence an adult can show. If they run into me, I might even smile and say "it's ok," because I know the little ones, who have been treated with kindness, will love this world more. And I understand in the eyes of these youngsters, every place is a playground. 

My approach, however, changed lately, after a 4-year-old boy I just met kept throwing little wood pieces at my two-and-half-year son out of nowhere and my mild warnings had little effect. 

He reminded me of a fourth-grader who reportedly pushed a pregnant lady over only to see whether she could have a miscarriage; a 12-year-old girl from Dongguan, South China's Guangdong Province, threw an apple from the 24th floor, hitting the head of a 3-month-old with full intensity; a 10-year-old boy from Southwest China's Guizhou Province cut off a construction worker's safety rope while he was dangling 100 feet (33 meters) in the air outside a high-rise apartment building. If I encounter these children in public, or the kids in Shanghai's subway, who put their own and others' safety in danger, would I still ignore them, or smile and say "it's ok?" 

I've also learnt this after becoming a parent - some children have no idea of the consequences of their actions. Certain improper behaviors stem from their natural instincts to explore. They should be taught there are rules and limits in the world which all should comply with, otherwise one must pay a price. Yet eventually, we can protect ourselves as a result of the disciplines. 

I feel sorry for the children who run amok in public without their parents trying to stop them. Those parents might be afraid of creating a scene, or ignorant of the multiple dangers of their children's behavior. Yet the screams and squeals, rudeness may one day cause harm and the misbehavior may develop into wrong values. If parents don't teach them, someone else will do the job, and it could be a stranger, police, or the laws. And such a lesson would be harsher. I stepped between the 4-year-old and my son the other day, looking the elder boy in the eye and telling him he could hurt someone and should say sorry. That was the first time I told a kid sternly what not to do. I am not sure if what I did was right. I was protecting my own boy. However, I do know this now, if parents are absent when their children run riot, saying "it's ok" is not the best benevolence I can show. Telling them to take care of themselves and be considerate of others is. 

The author is an engineer based in Beijing.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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