Sharing - A Mother's Response to 4-Year-Old Girl Who Was Beat Up at School

~ Posted on Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 12:03 AM ~

I came across this article which I must definitely share with you guys as I'm very interested to know your thoughts on this.

Merritt Smith, a mum from Ohio posted this picture of her 4-year-old daughter after being hit by a boy at school on Oct. 6. When Smith took her daughter to the hospital to get stitches under her eye, a hospital employee told her daughter "I bet he likes you." Smith was having none of that.​

For your convenience, I have copied the excerpts from the article here:

Merritt Smith

"I bet he likes you."

 Dear man at the registration desk at Children's hospital, l'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.

Official Statement from Merritt Smith, regarding my Facebook post from October 6, 2015

On October 5, 2015 I visited the emergency room at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio with my four-year-old daughter. She was there to receive treatment for an injury that had occurred at preschool. A classmate hit her in the face with a metal toy forcefully enough to warrant stitches. Her school handled the incident professionally and respectfully, as did the parents of the child who hit my daughter.

The comment, “I bet he likes you,” was made by a young man working at the registration desk to my daughter after learning that she sustained her injury from a boy in her class. I immediately pointed out, “That’s not how we show that we like someone,” but the totality of the experience, even after sleeping on it, weighed heavily on my heart and on my conscience as a mother. There were three key elements from my experience that compelled me to share my story:

1. The comment itself, regardless of the speaker’s intent, plants damaging seeds about what is acceptable as a demonstration of affection. It is a symptom of the larger issue of how deeply and casually violence is ingrained in our society.

2. At the registration desk, I was given an information pamphlet and a questionnaire on assistance for victims of domestic violence. I felt there was a huge disconnect between the comment and its message and these materials, which both came from the same place.

3. My four-year-old daughter had her first experience of losing her power over her own body to a necessary yet scary procedure because, as she had just been told, someone likes her.

This post was not initially public. A good friend asked if she could share it, so I changed my privacy setting on the post and off it went out into the world. It was not meant as an attack on the hospital or the employee, who genuinely meant no harm. I value Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a tremendous asset and resource in our community. They reached out to me and thanked me for creating awareness and the opportunity to refine the ongoing training they are committed to providing their staff. I am grateful for their empathy and desire to use this experience to grow, as I hope others may.

It is my intent that this be a teaching moment. I am humbled by the overwhelming response and positive conversations being had near and far. If we re-examine the power of our words, we can change old scripts that do not serve us as adults and most certainly do not serve our children. By bringing awareness to how a seemingly innocuous remark can cause harm, I hope that we can change the messages that guide our children as they learn to interact with one another and the world around them.


I remembered early this year, a little boy (same age as our girl) bullied our then 3.5 year old girl at the playground. He purposely blocked the slide as our girl was about to slide down and then he tried to snatch her slippers away despite me and his maid telling him not to do so. He managed to snatch one of her slippers, our girl screamed and I immediately grabbed hold of the boy's wrist as he was still clutching to her slipper, my fingers dug deep into his wrist and I said to the boy 'Let go, you cannot do this. Stop it!'

He released the slipper and looked at me in shock. I think my hand grip on his wrist warned him enough that this is not full blown mama bear mode yet. His grandfather came and pulled him away while the boy continued shouting at his grandfather several times saying 'I'll tell my mom and dad to cane you! You are a stupid girl!'

There was no apology offered to us. My girl crying still, ran off to hide behind the swing area and I  walked towards her, making sure the grandparents heard me loud and clear. I told our girl 'There is no need for you to hide or cry. You did nothing wrong. The boy is the one who is wrong and rude to you. Come out and continue playing. No one is going to hurt you.' We don't go around telling our children that somebody likes you so they hit/beat/bully you. That is not the right concept to teach any child.

So yeah, with respect to this article, I personally agree with how the mother responded. I mean, if you like someone, you don't go around beating or hitting them up or behaving like a bully.

What do you think? How would you respond if you are the mother?

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