“I bet he likes you.” And so it begins – love and violence being inextricably connected. When a four-year-old girl was so badly injured by a boy in her school that she required a trip to the emergency room for stitches in her face, the seemingly innocent comment from the receptionist was, “I bet he likes you.” This person was not unkind; he surely meant no harm, but he was sadly mistaken.
FOXNews Insider Reports:
“An Ohio mom took to social media after a hospital employee made a comment that angered her. According to a post on Merritt Smith’s Facebook page, her four-year-old daughter was hit by a boy at school. The blow was so severe, the little girl needed stitches.While registering her daughter for the hospital visit, she says the man behind the desk at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus told the girl, ‘I bet he likes you.’ Unwilling to let what Smith believes was a lapse in judgment on the hospital employee’s part slide, she took to social media, taking a stance against domestic violence.
‘Dear man at the registration desk at Children’s hospital, I’m positive that you didn’t think that statement through. As soon as I heard it I knew that is where it begins. That statement is where the idea that hurting is flirting begins to set a tone for what is acceptable behavior. My four-year-old knows that’s not how we show we like someone. That was not a good choice.
In that moment, hurt and in a new place, worried about perhaps getting a shot or stitches you were a person we needed to help us and your words of comfort conveyed a message that someone who likes you might hurt you. No. I will not allow that message to be ok. I will not allow it to be louder than that’s not how we show we like each other. At that desk you are in a position of influence, whether you realize it or not. You thought you were making the moment lighter. It is time to take responsibility for the messages we as a society give our children. Do not tell my 4 year-old who needs stitches from a boy at school hitting her – I bet he likes you. NO.”
When we teach our children that flirting with someone includes violence, we teach them that it is okay to hurt and be hurt by people we love. Spanking or violence of any type toward our children does the same thing.
Consider this: if a stranger hit your child, would that be assault? Would it be unacceptable? Would you tell your child that this is wrong? Yes, you say? Of course. Why? Because it is not okay to hit a stranger. Right? Right. Now, change the word “stranger” to the word “parent.” Is the aforementioned situation now suddenly acceptable?
We unwittingly send subtle messages every day to our children that as long as someone loves you it is okay for them to hurt you. “I bet he likes you.” Really? No, because as this Ohio mom so eloquently and simply pointed out, that’s not how we treat someone we like.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!