Mama Bear In The Air

by admin on April 17, 2012

When my now 6 year old was about 2and a half we went to visit a friend who lives a 3 hour plane trip away. My son did really well on the plane.  It’s actually another passenger and myself who were “out of control”!

About 2 hours into the trip after my son had had enough of colouring, reading, looking out the window, etc. I bought him some cartoon to watch on the back of the seat in front TV. He was getting sleepy so I swapped seats with him so he could lay his head on my lap and watch, so I then had to tilt the TV screen down by pushing on it a couple of times to get it on the right angle for my son to see.

The woman sitting in front of us had the whole three seats to herself. She was sitting at the window seat but had put her legs out over the other two seats, mainly reading magazines and I had noticed her flirting with the male flight attendant while she ordered alcoholic beverages throughout the flight-it was actually rather amusing.

Anyway when I pushed the TV she must have felt it as she turned and looked through the gap in the seat. I pushed it again and she quickly put her legs down and started fiddling with the seat belt before she threw it back over the seat at my son. The metal part missed his head and I thought, “What is this woman doing??” She poked her eyes through the seat again and I said to my son to move up the seats and I purchased the cartoon again off the next seat being the middle seat and I was now in the aisle seat. As my son got off his seat to move up a seat the woman threw the next seat belt over the seat and this time it did hit my son. I jumped up and checked my son out and when he was okay I started screaming at the woman.  Yes, I know that was wrong but I lost self control I was so angry that she would deliberately hurt my child who had done nothing to her. I wanted to rip her hair out but I did stop myself from doing that. The flight attendant asked the woman to move seats and she refused so he moved myself and my son to a different set of seats and I told the flight attendant I wanted the woman charged when the plane landed.

As we got off the plane several other passengers came up to me and said they saw what had happened and were appalled by this woman’s behavior and said they thought my son was very well behaved.

Anyway the woman ran out of the airport as quick as she could and I was very unhappy as the airline didn’t organize to have anything done about her behavior and assault on my child. Also she refused to move seats when asked by the flight attendant so surely that is an offense?

Interested to hear others thoughts-should I have reacted differently etc 0411-12

{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

c April 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm

As a mom, I would have reacted the same way. Who in their right mind would be so careless as to fling a weighted object haphazardly over a seat , not once but twice, especially when she saw with her own two eyes that their was a child in that area. I agree with you, she should have been detained as her actions were grossly negligent. I am disappointed that she was such a coward and had to flee the area. She deserved the tongue lashing she got from you. What kind on parent would let that pass without saying anything?

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Leslie April 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

This story doesn’t ring true to me at all. The only way a seat belt would have been long enough to reach over the seat to hit the child, she would have had to had an extender. Unless the kid was in the aisle. In which case, it probably would have hit his chest not his head. One purchases headsets on an airplane, the movies are generally free. I’m trying to think of carriers that I’ve been on where one had the ability to move the screen. Possibly first class on Delta. Definitely not in coach. Maybe Jet Blue? But they offer more space between seats, so the seat belt story doesn’t work. Eh, sorry, the more I think about this, the less I believe it.

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Cat Whisperer April 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

A comment on all the people who are saying “geez, OP should have charged that woman with assault!”

I guess these are people who have never been involved in the process of reporting a crime. Lucky them!

I get the feeling that these folks, OP included, think that all they have to do is tell the airline crew that they want to file a complaint against this woman and Presto! things happen.

Wrong. If OP had wanted to make a complaint against the woman for assault, the aircrew would have had to call for police to come to the gate. I don’t know what airport OP was flying into, but at most major airports, there aren’t police officers hanging around twiddling their thumbs waiting for people to call them. They’re on patrol, they’re responding to complaints, they’re filling out paperwork.

So if OP decided to make a complaint, she couldn’t just tell the air crew to file a complaint. They’d all have to wait for police to show up.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Then, OP would have to sit down with the police officers so they could take her statement. The police would also have to interview potential witnesses, get their statement, and take the statement of the woman the OP wanted charged with assault. (I’m sure that all these people would be simply ecstaticallly happy to sit around after a three-hour flight and wait for their statements to be taken.)

Connecting flights to make? People waiting for you in the baggage claim area? Checked baggage standing unattended while you’re waiting to make your statement? But an assault has been committed! I’m sure all the people who are clamoring for the boo-bad evil nasty woman who assaulted that little child would have been happy to miss flights, let their baggage ride around and around the carousel, and have people waiting to meet them cool their heels a couple of hours longer. After all, an assault was committed!

And let’s bear in mind that after the complaint is filed, that doesn’t end it. If you get to the stage of prosecution and the boo-bad evil nasty woman demands her right to a trial by a jury of her peers, OP and everyone who is a potential witness to the crime will have to show up in court at some point. If they don’t and they’re summoned as witnesses, the case may end up being dismissed.

Do you begin to see the problems with filing a charge of assault against this woman?

I get peevish when I encounter people who seem to think that filing a criminal complaint is easy and that it involves no effort or inconvenience. Filing a criminal complaint is never easy and it shouldn’t be. It just isn’t that simple.

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Jared Bascomb April 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Not quite on a par with this, but one time we were flying in the in-flight entertainment included a touch-screen version of a “Hangman”-like game. Problem was, the touch-screen wasn’t very sensitive and required more like a finger-stab than a gentle touch. We didn’t realize it, but the finger-jabs were transmitted through the seat padding and the passenger in the seat in front us felt it all. She at least had the courtesy to recline the seat enough so that she could look back at us and ask us to stop.

Things would have worked out better in Mama Bear’s situation (which, if I’m reading correctly, only involved a few taps to adjust the angle of the seat-back screen) if the other passenger had done what the passenger in front of us had done: recline the seat, make direct contact and a firm but polite request.

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Jared Bascomb April 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

@Cat Whisperer: My second response: OP could probably have avoided the entire conflict with the woman in front of her. OP knew that she was going to have to make an adjustment to the video screen that was on the seat in front of her. She knew she was going to have to push the seat, and that the woman who was in that seat was going to feel it.

That’s the point where you politely lean forward and tell this woman, “I’m sorry, I have to adjust the video screen on the seat, can you please bear with me while I do this?”<<

A certain amount of jostling/movement from behind and through the seat is (or should be) expected and adjusting the video monitor falls into that category. I don't think one needs to explain the occasional, expected action that might be felt by the passenger in the other seat.

However, constant/repetitive actions that transmit through the seat — see my example of the touch-screen game above, or a child kicking the seat back — are not acceptable,and may be subject to comment from the passenger in front.

That said, Mama Bear's encounter was way over the top (see my earlier post).

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Edhla April 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Whenever I hear or read the expression “Mama Bear” it translates to me as “I can be as aggressive and unreasonable as I like, because I’m a Mommy!”

Which is not directed at YOU, OP, as you never tried to justify your response with “Nobody messes with a Mama Bear!”. It was an unfortunate incident is all. There’s really not enough evidence in your story to suggest that she deliberately tried to hurt your son (as opposed to flicking the seatbelt over in annoyance.)

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boxy April 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

POD to everyone pointing out that filing assault charges isn’t something to be done lightly. It’s a long drawn out process. Better to avoid a conflict than finish one that way.

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Kim April 17, 2012 at 8:03 pm

OP, this happened when your son was two and a half?

And he’s now six, and you’re still kind of het up about it?

Time to let it go.

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MonkeysMommy April 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm

@ Leslie- yeah, Im so sure OP would totally make up this whole story. Please.
You can definitely tell from the reactions which readers have kids lol.
For what it’s worth OP, I would have probably been the one detained after the flight for what I would’ve done to the woman who hit my child. Seeing as how you say she kept looking between the seats, it sounds like she was very deliberate about it.

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admin April 17, 2012 at 8:21 pm

@MonkeysMommy I think it’s a terrible idea to judge the worth of a person’s comments on whether or not they have children. I’ve already deleted one comment that said as much, and I won’t be allowing any others through. The only reason I did let this one through is so that I could post this rebuttal.

The opinions of those without children are just as valid as those with children
-Ticia-

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OriginalPoster April 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Sorry but why would I make this up?
If it makes any difference it was a Virgin Blue flight from NSW to WA (Australia)
Headphones I already had with me as I wanted the over the head and sit on the ears type for my son
Not the ones that plug into your ears. you have to Swipe your credit card to watch the TV
This isn’t on most short flights that I’ve been on I suppose as it was a 3 hour flight this was why it was offered.
And it was a late arrival I can’t remember the actual time but everything was closed-maybe something after 11pm.
Once I arrived home it was even harder to have anything done about this woman as it was being dealt with by the police in one state, the woman
Lived in another state and I live in
Another state again.

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Cat Whisperer April 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Jared, I am firmly of the belief that courtesy is never wasted. Especially since air travel has become such an ordeal, I think that anything that you do that might inconvenience or irritate another passenger warrants a polite expression of apology for the inconvenience. After all, what does it cost you to warn someone that you’re going to do something that might inconvenience them, and apologize in advance for the intrusion? Unless the person you’re going to apologize to is asleep or deeply concentrating on something where speaking to them would be an intrusion, they’re probably going to appreciate the courtesy.

I don’t think anyone ever got into trouble by erring on the side of politeness and consideration for one’s fellow travellers. You can’t go wrong by taking the high road of behavior.

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NotThumper April 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Did I miss something or did Admin? MonkeysMommy said it was obvious who had children based on their reactionary responses, she said nothing of their validity either way.

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Kate April 18, 2012 at 4:36 am

I am also not a fan of the ‘Mama Bear’ mentality. OP, this is not directed at you in any way as I believe your situation called for some anger, because your child was actually hurt.
I understand being protective of your children, but that shouldn’t mean “defend my child’s right to do whatever the hell they want regardless of the comfort and safety of others”.
At my local pool last week, a child of about 7 or 8 was mucking around in the designated lap swimming lane. There were two lanes clearly marked for free play, but this kid decided to do bombs and jump around while people were trying to swim laps. It was quite dangerous because he wasn’t paying attention to oncoming swimmers at all.
I let it go the first time, but when he landed on me a second time I pointed out the play lanes to him and suggested he move over there because he was getting in the way of swimmers. To his credit, he apologised and moved. However, his mother decided to approach me after I was done swimming and tell me off because she couldn’t see her kid in that lane without moving seats, and she liked the seat she was in.
The seats are exactly the same, her kid was in the wrong, and she did not have a leg to stand on yet she insisted on pulling the mama bear routine? Ugh.

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FunkyMunky April 18, 2012 at 4:42 am

You pulled on her seat, knowing it would be felt.

Other woman hit your child in the head. Possibly accidentally. (though I’ve flown Virgin Blue and fail to see how the seatbelt hit him – there’s not enough of a gap between the seats for it to go through and they’re too short to go over)

You screamed at her, deliberately.

I can’t take your side on this one. Being a parent is no excuse for being deliberately rude.

The AFP have bigger concerns than a kid getting a bump on the head.

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GroceryGirl April 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

@ Rap – I see a lot of mama bear action during my commute. I work evenings and drive past FIVE schools to get to my job (leaving for work at 3 pm). It is not a pleasant experience. People in my area have adopted the habit of simply stopping their cars mid-traffic to pick up their children. I’ve seen a lot of fights and honking and yelling break out when people try to skirt the stopped cars (as one would normally do on a busy, four-lane main road). I see it in my parking lot when people clog up the few parking spaces so they can walk two blocks over and avoid going through a traffic circle. I see it at work as well when I advise children not to climb on the sides of grocery carts (seriously, people, don’t let your kids do that, I’ve seen kids get stitches for doing that). Sometimes with some people on some occasions (NOTE: I am NOT overgeneralizing here or condemning parents at ALL) people can overreact where their children are concerned and there is a touch of ‘I have a child, I have the right to do as I please’ (sometimes!)

In this case, the woman in the seat was at fault. She ought to have had a polite spine, turned around and asked the OP nicely to stop pulling on her seat. Isn’t that the message we see here over and over and over?

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Jane April 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

I don’t think the story is made up. However, I do wonder what kind of seat belts on a plane are long enough to be flung over like that.

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PrettySticks April 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

I don’t get how the woman might “accidentally” hit the child with the seatbelt, as some posters have suggested. In what scenario would someone conceivably legitimately fling the seatbelt over the back of the seat? You want to shift your position, you unbuckle the belt and shift. You want to go to the bathroom, you unbuckle the belt and stand up. The flight’s over, you unbuckle the belt, stand up and leave. Unless the thing’s on fire, I cannot think why any reasonable person would (a) even want to do this and (b) think it was ok, because of the general close quarters of an airplane. It’s a pretty decisive action.

And I took the detail about her having three seats to herself as a preemptive explanation as to why she had more than one seatbelt at her disposal. I don’t think the OP had any malicious intent with that comment.

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Drawberry April 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm

It doesn’t matter who has children and who doesn’t, it doesn’t matter how we think the police should have been involved if at all. What matters is this woman was deliberately trying to hurt the O.P’s child, and that much is clear. This woman was purposefully seeking out the child to hurt him as if to punish the mother for what was taken as a grievous crime against her comfort.

She bolted out of the airport for a reason. She knew what she did, and likely didn’t expect anyone to call her out for it or to be caught.

Police involvement aside, parent or not, the woman behaved appallingly.

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Rap April 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

“. What matters is this woman was deliberately trying to hurt the O.P’s child, and that much is clear.”

Forgive me, but that is not clear at all, nor is it an accepted fact. In fact, part of what makes me uneasy in this is the immediate assumption that the woman in the seat must of have been trying to intentionally and spitefully hurt a child simply because she tossed her seat belt over the seat and hit the child. The OP has left out *what the woman said in response to her screaming* and in fact gives us no reaction from either the woman “assaulter” or the flight attendant. Did the child injuring woman *say* “Yes I wanted to hit your child! Ha!” or did she apologize and say it was an accident?

I mean honestly, I still can’t see how the seat belt hit the kid, but I’m willing to concede on a cramped plane, it could happen. So how does the OP *know* the woman was deliberately attacking her child? And not just being inconsiderant in a cramped setting? Point – if the woman was drinking, then she may have lacked the forethought to think “oh hey, the seatbelt in my way might hit the person behind me if I just toss it.” My red flag on this is that Mama Bear OP said nothing the *first time* the woman “deliberately tried to hurt her child”. If flinging the seat belt was a deliberate physical attack on a child, an assault so obvious that there is no mistaking that this woman was clearly physically assaulting a child, why did it happen twice and why didn’t Mama Bear OP step during the first attempt this woman made to physically harm her child? I don’t mean to be lawyerly, but I reread her discription and she said nothing to the woman the first time. If the situation was so physically dangerous that it was obvious to her that this woman was deliberately trying to hurt her child… why no reaction that first time?

GroceryGirl – Thanks for confirming I’m not crazy. And you’re right, it certainly isn’t all parents, but it’s enough that I am very careful with how I interact with parents and their children.

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Kate April 19, 2012 at 2:13 am

I have never been on a plane which has had seat belts UNCONNECTED to the seats. How would this woman having three seats to herself make them any longer?

In addition, all the airplane seat belts I have seen have been very short. For this woman to have hit someone in the row behind her with her seatbelt it would have had to go over her seat and head rest and cross the foot or so between the back of her seat and the front of the next seat, not to mention the descent from the top of the headrest/seat to the kid’s head, where he was supposedly lying down. As a rough estimate, a seat back, from the bottom to the headrest would be 3 feet, plus 1 foot to cross between seats, plus another 3 feet to hit the bottom of the seat where the kid was lying down. For one seatbelt, actually a lap seatbelt half, to get technical, to cross this distance, it would have to be about 6 feet long.

It is possible that the seat belt actually went between the seats, but I don’t remember the seats on ANY flight I have been on to be spaced far apart enough to allow this, with the exception, I believe, of first class, and they did not have three seats together, two at the most.

If the woman in the next row up did have three seats to herself, I bet she “threw” the seat belts to try and avoid sitting on them. I can sympathize those things shift around, and every time I went to the bathroom and came back I ended up sitting on them. Hard metal, ouch! I also bet that she peeked through the seats to make sure she HADN’T hit the OP’s son, or disturbed him. I think maybe the OP did more adjusting/poking of the seat in front of her than she admits to, or that her son kicked the seat back or something and she didn’t want to stop him, not to mention the fact that she took especial notice of the woman drinking alcohol, having three seats to herself, and flirting with the flight attendant. Perhaps she felt a little bit jealous? And then, when her son got hit with one of the woman’s belts, she moved him, but didn’t A) ask the woman what she was doing, B) mention that the woman had almost hit her son, C) apologize for jiggling/moving/whatever the seat the woman was using. Instead, she reacted. And now, here she is, posting about it four years later.

TL;DR Airplanes and airports are stressful for everyone, I think, especially if you have a small child. This was four years ago for the OP.
Memory is faulty, especially emotionally charged memories.
We are only getting the OP’s side of the story.
You can say anything you want, it doesn’t mean it is true or correct, even if you want or mean it to be, not necessarily that you are purposefully lying, even.
To end my post on a lighter note, I am queen of the unicorns!!! (See, this is true in my head, but that doesn’t make it true in the outside world.) Also, I am a brunette. (I AM a brunette, but only because I dye it that way, my natural color is blonde-brown.)

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Kate April 19, 2012 at 2:21 am

Readint the even earlier comments, which I did not see before, instead responding mostly to the story itself, I LOVE to see the progression. By comment thirteen, instead of this woman throwing her seatbelt, she (not an exact quote) “deliberately slammed her seat into a child twice”. LOVE IT.
To remind people:
1) There is no evidence this woman intended to harm the OP’s child.
2) The only thing this woman “threw” was a seat belt.
3) Only one of the two seat belt throws hit the child, the second one, after which the OP reacted.

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Erin April 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

This is the most depressing, hateful batch of comments I’ve ever seen on this website.

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Huh April 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I could see the story from the lady in front of her being:

“I was once on a flight, thrilled that I had the row to myself and trying to relax with a few cocktails when this woman with a small child started poking the back of my seat. I looked through the space in between the seats and saw they were watching a movie in the back of the seat I was in, so I undid my seatbelt, moved it out of the way, and moved to the middle seat. She then proceeded to poke that seat as well. In moving my seatbelt out of the way again to move away a second time, apparently I hit her child with the seatbelt, and she started screaming at me before I had a chance to apologize. I had no idea a plane seatbelt could even reach that far back! I was even more stunned when she demanded the flight attendant have ME move. I refused and explained to him that I was doing my best to move away from the annoyance she was causing rather than cause a scene when she started screaming at me. He then moved her and her child instead. When the plane landed I hurried out of the airport as fast as I could to get away from the lunatic.”

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Cat Whisperer April 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

GroceryGirl, I live on a street that has a large middle school down the block from us on the cross-street at the end of the block. Every morning we get the parents driving down the block to drop kids off, and every afternoon we get parents driving down the block to pick kids up.

I have seen some INCREDIBLE things with parents dropping kids off and picking them up.

Parents stopping in the middle of the street and letting kids out with traffic rolling all around them? Heck, that’s such an everyday occurence that it hardly rates a second glance! Kids darting from between parked cars mid-block to run across the street? All the time! Parents dropping kids off and then making U-turns across traffic without looking or signaling? Man, I’ve gotten a sixth sense so I can see that coming. Parents double and triple parking, blocking all traffic, heedless of people honking and all the angry shouts asking them to move so people can get by? That’s such a normal event that I won’t even try to go past the school when classes let out and people are waiting to pick up their kids.

It absolutely boggles my mind. We are incredibly lucky that to date, there hasn’t been a fatal accident around the school. What blows me away is that so many parents seem to be completely oblivious to how they are endangering their own children. I drove my daughter to school just about every day from the time she entered kindergarten until her graduation from high school, and I would never, ever, not in a million years let her get out in the middle of the street, or drop her off where she could dart across the road, or show her such bad manners as to block traffic while waiting to pick her up. I cannot understand these parents. Don’t they love their children? Don’t they care about their safety? How can they knowingly and willfully put their children in such danger and drive away without a second look?

And don’t even get me started on the number of parents I see who are multitasking behind the wheel as they’re doing this: texting, or talking on the cell phone, or applying makeup, or eating.

It’s bad manners to the nth degree, but it’s also dangerous and not a very loving, caring way to deal with your children. But it seems to be more the norm than otherwise. How could these people face themselves if something happened and their child did get hurt?

It’s so bad that literally every six weeks or so when school is in session, the sheriff’s office coordinates with the school to stage an enforcement action and they ticket like crazy for about a week. And for about a month, things get better, and then they fall apart again.

It’s really, really, really sad, IMO. Don’t these people care enough about their children to want to keep them safe? It only takes a few minutes more to drop a child off safely at school. Is saving a couple of minutes really that important to these people? More important than the safety of their children?

It totally baffles me. Defies all understanding. Very, very sad.

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Enna April 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Personally unless someone is tyring to kidnap a child or seriously harm a child “mama bear” is not an excuse and nor is it limited just to parents. I don’t have children but I’m sure I could do a “mama bear” if I saw a child in real danger e.g. kidnap.

Filing an assult charge is a long drawn out process – what about a warning from sercurity? Customs? Immigration? Any unusual behaviour can lead to very long waits for and indivial as bags are serached etc. If your son’s face was cut, bruised of skin broken then that would be a bit different.

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Abcd April 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm

To those who are saying that the woman didn’t do it deliberately is wrong.

When you accidentally hit someone because you are drunk driving is equal to deliberately hitting that person. You had a choice between getting and not getting drunk. Likewise, when you fling seat belts at any direction and hit someone accidentally, you can’t claim you did not do it deliberately because simply, that is not the proper way to move seat belts out of your way.

To those who think seat belts aren’t long mustn’t have noticed airplane seat belts clearly. There are two belts which join together at the buckle. One side is adjustable and the other is not. I believe the adjustable belt can be lengthy if adjusted for maximum length.

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lily April 21, 2012 at 3:28 am

On the Virgin Blue thing. I fly with them regularly and know the pay T.V screens OP means that are in some of their planes. Also, while most seatbelts are small when you have them on, most people here seem to forget that they are adjustable and if you do adjust it so the clip is right on the end, in some planes they are a good meter or so long. I’m not sure if that would go over an average seat, but I do know the Blue planes are a refitted fleet of varying years and hence have varying interiors, so they do vary widely in design. If in one of those planes (and I have flown on one with seats like this) there was a small gap between the seats instead of the standard ‘three seats on one bench with armrests/no gaps’ arrangement, and the belt was a longer one and adjusted to it’s entire length, then yes, I would think a belt could reach the seat behind. Virgin does packs you in like sardines, you’re lucky if their is 25cm between you an the chair in front, so it’s not a huge gap to breach, actually.

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sallyann April 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Agree with others on the ‘mama bear’ thing. I once had a ‘mama bear’ type yell at me because her son ran up to me as I as walking and punched me hard in the leg. Apparently she felt I should have apologized to her little sweetie for hurting his fist with the side of my leg.

While the woman sounds a bit passive aggressive and careless, so does the mother. For me, if the ‘assault’ was as clear cut and obvious as some of the posters are assuming the flight attendants would have done something about it. More to the point the mother herself *did nothing* when the first belt went back, indicating she assumed at that stage it wasn’t a deliberate attack. When the woman does the same thing again (why not? nothing bad happened the first time), and the kid is hurt the mother loses the ability to think about the situation rationally and starts screeching. Given that the kid was not in his seat and moving at the time, it seems to be attributing the woman with uncanny powers to assume the hit was deliberate.

The saddest thing for me is that the mother years later still clearly thinks the other woman was the problem, without seeing she was just as bad.

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Rap April 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm

“Likewise, when you fling seat belts at any direction and hit someone accidentally, you can’t claim you did not do it deliberately because simply, that is not the proper way to move seat belts out of your way.”

Well, thats where the issue of intent and actual damages come into play. The woman flung the seat belt. Did she fling it with the intent to strike the child? Can that in any way be proven? Let’s call it stupid and thoughtless on her part – can it be proven her *intent* was to deliberately injure a child?

No, it can’t proven that this was anything other than a thoughtless accident. But even if you accidently hit someone with a car, while it’s an accident, there’s still the possibility of actual damages.

I specifically asked and the OP has had the opportunity to answer – did the child have any injuries, did she take the child to a doctor, was there any medical intervention. The response was that the child had a bruise, no mention of seeing a doctor or any medical intervention.

So there’s no actual damages. So there’s no proof this was anything other than an accident so what is a *just* punishment for this? For a bruise that didn’t need any medical intervention? Seriously, how much prison time is appropriate for this?

I’ll ask the OP. OP? What do you think *should* have happened to the offender? When you wanted to press charges, did you have a specific jail term or punishment in mind?

Someone was thoughtless and the child had a bruise and made a full recovery. Since this is assault in the eyes of some posters, I seriously would like to know how much jail time is the appropriate punishment?

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Cat Whisperer April 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Lily, I got curious about the issue of length of seatbelts and did a little searching on the subject. Isn’t it nice that we have so much information on the internet?

What I found: The length of the seatbelt varies from airline to airline, with United having the shortest length, 31 inches, and Aeromexico and Hawaiian Air having the longest, at 51 inches.

That said, to hit a passenger who is in the row of seats behind you in the head, that passenger would almost have have their head right up next to the seat in front of them to get hit by the metal part of the seat belt from the row in front of them. Airline seats are tightly fitted next to one another in each row, with very little/no space between the seats when all seats are in the same position. Space is money in the airline world, and they make those seats to fit tightly next to one another.

It would be almost impossible, the way most aircraft are configured, for a passenger who is sitting in a normal seated position to be hit in the head by any part of the seatbelt from the row in front of him/her. If a child was lying on the seat, such as the OP describes, but had his/her head near the back of his/her seat, it would be almost impossible for them to be hit by any part of the seatbelt. If a child was lying in the seat and was leaning forward to get his/her head as close as possible to the row of seats in front of them, then they might come within range of the seatbelt from the row in front of them. But it would be pretty difficult for anyone in the row of seats in front to swing a seatbelt hard enough to really do any damage to someone in the row behind them, unless the person in the row behind them was literally smack up against the seat in front of them.

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Mabel April 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I can’t see how she hit the kid with the seatbelt. They’re too short to go through the seats. Although, I haven’t flown on every type of aircraft, so there could be one where they are.

Once I was standing in line at Woolworth’s (mid-90s–there were still a few around) with a tote bag of library books over my shoulder. A mom and little boy got in line behind me, but I didn’t notice the boy was standing directly behind my book bag. I shifted it on my shoulder to reach my wallet and bonked him in the eyebrow. 0_0

He started crying and I fell all over myself apologizing. The mom was like “It was an accident,” but I could tell she was upset (of course, I would have been too). I was so embarrassed and felt so bad. I offered to go buy an ice bag, but she declined so I just paid and got out of there as fast as I could.

I put my bag on the floor after that. I don’t know what I would have done if she had started screaming at me. I have to give her a lot of credit; it WAS an accident and rather than get all het up about it, I hope she explained to her son when he stopped crying that I didn’t mean to. :(

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Goldie April 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

To all that say the OP was lying or distorting the story – she states she had several witnesses come down and talk to her after the flight, and that one of them stayed with her to talk to the police. Why would someone stay at the airport after a flight for a total stranger, unless they saw something serious – like, oh, I don’t know, a drunken adult hitting a child with a seat belt on purpose? I know when I get off the plane, all I want to do is get out of there and get home as soon as I can. I wouldn’t stay at the airport after my flight has landed without a very valid reason.

You all are probably correct that it’s nearly impossible to hit someone sitting behind you with your seat belt *by accident*. But it technically can be done on purpose – the belt length and the space between seats allow for that to happen, if the person really wants to and aims well.

Have to add, with all the victim-blaming going on in this thread, I wonder how anyone has the courage to send their stories in anymore.

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Rap April 24, 2012 at 12:16 am

Goldie – there’s several factors that make me suspicious that the story as presented is enhanced. The flight attendent not moving the offender, no comment at all on what the offender said as she was advised she was assaulting a child, no words from the OP to the offender on the first attempt to assault the child. Seriously, if we’re playing the Mama Bear card, she watched this drunken woman try to hit her her child and did nothing the first time? Not even a “Hey, please be careful”?

But frankly, its the end that tells me it wasn’t too serious. This is a post 9/11 flight. If the air crew thinks you’re assaulting someone, they really don’t play. I don’t know if the OP meant anything by pointing out that the drunk woman was flirting with the flight attendent, but really if you think they’re going to let a vicious intentional assault on a child slide because they kinda find the assaulter attractive. But here’s the big thing that tells me that this might be exaggerated.

Australia is actually pretty civilized. So the OP talked to the police, and had a witness give a statement. So they don’t catch the woman at the airport but…. if she used a credit card, and even if she didn’t because really, its not 1960, they have her name and her address, and according to the OP, actually went out to her home but missed her because she was traveling. And then apparently, they just chucked this case away because thats what police do, they try an address once and thats it – if the offender isn’t home that one time, the assault investigation is done. A cop seeing a child with fresh bruises (that required no medical attention) and hearing this child say “Lady hit me!” just turned his back.

Yeah, not buying that this is exactly how things went down. There’s too many people in positions of authority who have to turn a blind eye on a two year old to make this work. Including, forgive me, the OP, who watched a drunk woman deliberately aim at her child and said nothing the first time it happened.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe the basics of the story. I believe there was a woman sitting in front of her and I believe her kid got hit with a belt buckle. But honestly, if it was so obviously a deliberate assault on a child, I’d expect *someone* in authority to see it. Seriously, if it was so obviously a crime, to where I truly believed the woman should have been arrested, I would have gone to the news media with “I reported an assault on my child on an airplane. I have the woman’s name and address bt the airline wouldn’t help me and the police quit after knocking on her door once.”

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Riri April 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I’m sure you were upset, but what differentiates you from your son is that you’re an adult. And an adult must behave like an adult in non-ideal situations. Yelling and screeching is not adult-like behaviour. Also, the status of the seat belt being long enough to strike is dubious, as is most peoples’ memory of what occurred in an emotion-charged situation four years ago.

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OriginalPoster April 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm

In response to some questions asked-I thought the woman should have to pay a fine to the victims of crime fund and as I have already stated but people keep commenting-it was as my son got out of his seat to move to the next seat that he got hit by the seat belt buckle.
I only posted this to see what opinions are on how I could have acted differently I don’t need to justify my story-it is as it Is written ;)

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Lennie May 16, 2012 at 12:51 am

OP to be honest I wouldnt bother defending yourself against this tirade. Most people posting are non Australian and therefore do not have the understanding of the way things are different in Australia -planes, police and flight planning/capacity, responses to disagreements inflight “post 9/11″, to make truely educated comments.

It would be like an Aussie commenting in regards to how things in America work based ONLY on Australian experience – it cannot be done fairly nor accurately

I can see why you yelled at the woman, and as others have stated, throwing TWO of the (obviously adjustable) seatbelts between the seats is a deliberate act, however I dont think screaming did any good, it more than likely made you feel as if you had done something and upset other travellers (btw Sydney to Perth is just about 5hrs flight and boring as anything), It may have been a better idea to make a complaint discreetly to the flight attendants, or as suggested use the polite backbone (without screaming) to get your point across. Flight attendants are under no obligation to move anyone unless there is a serious issue and it would seem this occurance was seen as an small incident/conflict of interests, and best left alone after the event, after all they saw no wrong doing – and no one at that time came forward to verify your story.

Paying a fine to the victims crime fund seems rather over the top- he was more the victim of a b**ch by what you have said – an apology to both you and your son would be more appropriate, and if he was physically hurt by her actions – reimbursement of costs for medical expenses.

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