I recently witnessed a heartbreaking scene while grocery shopping.

Three women had a young girl trapped, pinning her against some shelves. One of the tormentors looked older than the rest; possibly her mother. The other two were teenagers — maybe her sisters. My gaze shifted to the girl, who looked about 8 or 9. The three were mumbling and laughing as the young girl cried.

Sadness flooded my heart.

I glanced back at the scene just as the older woman pulled the girl's hair. She started to sob.

"Shut up!" hissed the woman.

My brain swirled, and tears made it hard to see. But the scene did not stop. Instead the tormentors blurted, "We're going to leave you."

I imagined how that sweet girl felt:How could they be so cruel? They are older. They are bigger. They are supposed to help me.

The words screamed through my brain.

She slowly followed. She had no choice.

My heart broke, and tears burst forth. How many children are hit, slapped, pushed or yelled at by the adults in their lives?

Something must be done.

Throughout the generations, a lie has been fabricated that says children "deserve" what's coming to them. But it is just that — a lie!

Children are human beings with a heart and a soul just like you and me. They have needs and sometimes act out to communicate those needs. But they are not evil. They NEVER deserve abuse.

They do not "deserve" to have their hair pulled.

They do not deserve to be punched.

They do not deserve to be hit.

They do not deserve to be slapped.

They do not deserve to be yelled at.


Children are learning. They rely on the adults in their lives.

They rely on adults to love them.

They rely on adults to feed them.

They rely on adults to help them feel safe.

There are better ways than physical force and verbal cruelty to help children learn and grow.

My husband's grandfather was whipped as a child. As he crouched by the shed, his backside blistered, he swore to never hit his own children. He never did. The hurt stopped with him.

It can be stopped. It can stop with you.

Decide today you will not hurt your children. Choose to treat them with love and respect — even if you never experienced those things as a child.

Decide to be their safe, loving place.

Show them kindness, and how to live a life full of it.

Learn how to connect with your children so they know they are valued.

Discover how to set strong, kind limits.

Find the coping skills to use in tough times.

There is help. There are books. There are classes.

You can do it! You can stop the hurt.

Your children need you.

They are small. They are young. The world is a scary place.

Be the adult.

It starts with you and me.

It starts with all of us.

Let's stop the hurt.

Editor's note: This article was previously published on parentingbrilliantly.com. It has been republished here with permission.

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