Temper tantrums are an easy way for toddlers to express their anger. Even so, it's embarrassing when it happens, and most parents will do just about anything to make it stop—except, maybe, drag them down a busy street by a harness.
When a video emerged on Twitter recently, showing a mother in Liverpool, England, dragging her child across the pavement by (what appears to be) a leash, people went ballistic.
The recording, captured by an eyewitness—whose Twitter handle states that they are there to educate and protect children—shows the boy lying motionless to one side while his mother nonchalantly drags him down a crowded sidewalk.
The footage also reveals several observers who are walking by and staring in disbelief. Still, no one—not even the videographer—does a thing to stop her. The person who tweeted the video later released a statement indicating that the kid seemed fine.
"To be honest," the statement read, "it was people who saw it that seemed worse off."
While some expressed anger toward the witnesses for not intervening, others speculated that perhaps the child wasn't real at all, referring to the boy as a "dummy." And then there were the true haters: the ones calling the woman a bad mother for doing that to her son.
Recently, the boy's mother, who wishes to remain nameless, came forward to set the record straight. In an interview with Echo, the 31-year-old single mom told reporters that she is tired of people judging her parenting “before they know the situation.”
She explained that her 4-year-old son, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, suffers from a severe form of autism and tends to react poorly in large crowds of people.
“People are making me out to be a bad mum—I am not a bad mum," she said. “They should ask before they judge me. Only two women came up to me, and I said, ‘He has severe autism.'"
People are making me out to be a bad mum—I am not a bad mum.
She added: “People don’t understand how hard it is having an autistic child, especially when they are so strong. He has attacked me before and knocked me off my feet, but he doesn’t know he is hurting me."
Aside from the fact that her son has autism, the mom insists that there is nothing else wrong with him, that he isn't naughty and that he is very loving. But, she adds, "I have the reins on him because he has no sense of danger."
That being said, were her actions justified?
According to Autism Speaks' Challenging Behaviors Tool Kit, it all depends on the child. Parents of children suffering from autism are encouraged to put together a "crisis plan” to keep the individual with autism and other family members safe during episodes of aggression or self-injury.
“I try my best, and people that know me know that I am a good mum," she said.