Abuse in Public Places

How to stop child abuse in a public setting
(provided by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse)

It can be uncomfortable to watch a child mistreated by an adult who’s out of control.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help.


Start a conversation with the adult to direct attention away from the child. Say something such as:

  • “Children can wear you out, can’t they? Is there anything I can do to help?”
  • “She seems to be trying your patience.”
  • “My child has gotten upset like that too.”
  • “He has beautiful (eyes).” – this can encourage a more positive mood for the parent


Talk to the child to divert the child’s attention if misbehaving.


Look for the first opportunity to praise the parent and child.


Offer assistance if the child is in danger. For example, if the child is left unattended in a grocery cart, stand by the child until the parent returns.


Avoid negative remarks or looks. These reactions are likely to increase the parent’s anger and make matters worse.