Published: 17 August, 2012
• LAST Thursday, I witnessed something very disturbing. I was on a bus in Essex Road. It was not at all crowded, possibly a dozen passengers on the lower deck.
As I was going to get off shortly, rather than sit I stood in the pushchair/disabled area.
A boy, maybe aged eight or nine, was trying with some success to do some gymnastics in front of me – jumping up to catch the hanging straps, which he did several times, pulling himself up with more ability and control than I would have given him credit for.
Other passengers also appeared to be impressed – quite likely he had been watching the Olympics.
I was aware of a woman sitting further down the bus shouting at him to stop it, but he took no notice.
To my horror, she suddenly got up, came forward and dragged him very roughly backwards and literally flung him into the window seat where he immediately started crying loudly.
The woman was swearing at him and cursing. I could not believe, not just her language, but particularly the amount of force she used on him – quite unreasonable and possibly enough to cause injury.
Trying to think how I could express my horror at her behaviour without making things worse, I was relieved to see a man lean across the aisle to speak to her quietly, obviously in much more measured tones than I felt I would have managed.
I could not hear what he was saying, but she was making excuses and saying the boy was “out of f****** control”.
My stop was next and I left, observing that the man was by then speaking to the boy himself, who was still in tears.
The woman’s behaviour was completely unwarranted.
The boy probably should not have been doing gymnastics, but the bus was not crowded and the driver seemed unperturbed.
Even had circumstances been different, that was no way to restrain him.
It is a long time since I was a parent of a child of that age and I am by no means anti-discipline, but what I saw was shocking and surely counter-productive.
I am at a loss to know what was the right thing to do.
Nothing is what I did, but that does not feel right.
In those moments, apart from the brutality, the woman concerned exhibited nothing short of hatred for the child. One wonders what sort of future he has.
Oakley Road, N1