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Man Slaps Stranger's Kid in Wal-Mart

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Imagine this for a shopping nightmare: Your 2-year-old throws a tantrum at Wal-Mart, and a strange man walks up to her and slaps her across the face to shut her up.

Roger Stephens

Ronda Kaysen: This happened to a Georgia mom on Monday. Sonya Mathews' daughter, Paige, was crying in the store when 61-year-old Roger Stephens told Mathews that if she didn't make her kid stop crying, he would. When little Paige continued to cry, he walked up to her and slapped her across the face several times. After he did it, he told Mathews, "See, I told you I would shut her up."

Mathews screamed at him and called for security. Another shopper stopped him. He was arrested and charged with cruelty to a child, a felony, and is being held without bail. Paige suffered no injuries, except for some redness in the face. Of course, that says nothing of the psychological injuries she might have experienced.

Can you imagine this happening to your kid? I wonder how Mathews explained such a terrifying act of violence to a child so young. It sends chills down my mommy-spine.

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149 comments so far | Post a comment now
karen neer September 2, 2009, 12:20 PM

psychological injuries? are you kidding me? she is 2 and this memory won’t stick with her for very long.

a stranger didn’t have the right to discipline someone else’s child, but we mothers have the duty of keeping our children from disturbing others. why wasn’t the mother correcting her own child and what kind of mother is she for letting this loontic touch her child even once.


Nutmac September 2, 2009, 12:26 PM

Scary but then again, we are talking about Wal-Mart. I admit, I shop there from time-to-time to buy Mum Mum rice rusks and planting supplies. But let’s face it. Wal-Mart isn’t the most pleasant place to shop, particularly at the checkout line.

kk September 2, 2009, 12:39 PM

I bumped into a woman with a fur coat on at a mall when I was 3, she turned around hit me and then pushed me It was something I have never forgotten. I can’t stand to listen to screaming brats in the store but that doesn’t give me the right to hit them. Old people are crazy.

jamie September 2, 2009, 12:40 PM

The mother should have been in control of the screaming kid. I see it all the time. My children behaved in public.

MarMar September 2, 2009, 12:46 PM

Look the kid was crying, period. Who hasn’t had their kid cry in public, especially at that age? It’s not even like it was at someplace where she was supposed to be quiet, like at a library or in the middle of a theater performance. Not even in the middle of a chi-chi restaurant - it was Wal-Mart! Kid was cranky, period. And I’ll tell you right now, had that been MY cranky child, he’d be glad the police got to him before I did. There would be two assault arrests, I’ll tell you that right now. And I can’t believe the poster here who is blaming this on the CHILD or even on the MOM!

birdsfly September 2, 2009, 12:49 PM

Yes, because I’m sure all of you would have been able to get a cranky two year old (PRACTICALLY STILL A BABY!) to instantly stop crying. Give me a break!

Anonymous September 2, 2009, 12:55 PM

i was in walmart one day right before my son’s 4th birthday and he kept crying for a toy and the night before he poured a whole cup of juice in my laptops i was already mad..i kept telling him no but he kept on..i yelled at him..not too loud but louder than i probably should have at the store and this lady comes around the corner yelling at me and telling me she doesn’t like the way i treat my child..she followed me all of the store and into the parking lot…she call child protective services on me or so she says…she wrote down my liscence plate and everything..i ended up calling the police on her..come to find out she cant have kids and wants them so she was trying to steal my son…

Camille September 2, 2009, 12:57 PM

Funny, the other day my 2 year old got into a screaming fit in the supermarket b/c she was tired from all the errands I was running that day. I was able to get her under control but unless you have an ability to know what your child is going to do in advance, they’re going to scream and get frustrated when they’d rather be playing somewhere. I wish someone would tell me how to discipline my child.

Jill September 2, 2009, 1:04 PM

This is so wrong. Our children are precious angels. If they are feeling down in public and want to cry, no one has the RIGHT to stop them. We should be encouraging our children not to hold back their feelings, ESPECIALLY in public.

I hope this man rots in hell.

erin  September 2, 2009, 1:10 PM

wow u cant get a 2 yr old 2 just stop cryin on cue! as a mother of a i lov him 2 death but its true..ive tried everything takin away toys time out som kids just wont listen! some parents just dont disapline kids but i do and im tellin u sometimes u got a stubborn baby on ur hands :]

K September 2, 2009, 1:24 PM

How in the world was this man able to slap the child once, let alone several times without the mother stepping in to stop him? Odd.

Maria September 2, 2009, 1:28 PM

I applaud this guy. The fact is that it is rude to others to have to hear your miserable little brat screaming and whining through the entire store. It happens all the time in public and parents act like they don’t even hear it.

Keep your child in line, my mother never let me act like a fool in public areas so I know it’s possible.

Bad parenting is what is wrong with this country.

Amber September 2, 2009, 1:29 PM

While it is true that mother have a responsibility to try and control their children in a public place, that does not give a stranger the right to hit a child across the face. How do you know that the mother wasn’t trying to shush the child? Were any of you that are judging there? I am shocked and amazed that those of you that are claiming to be mothers seem to be siding with this man because the mother should have been making her child be quiet. Have your children ever did anything wrong? Ever? By the logic of your statements, any person walking by YOUR children that happens to think that the children are not behaving according to their standards have the right to hit them. Perhaps the shame should be on you?

Ange September 2, 2009, 1:41 PM

Did you people not read that the child was CRYING - not screaming. Maybe the mother was trying to get her child to stop crying, but that’s not the easiest with 2 year olds.

NEVER EVER in any circumstance is it ok for a stranger to do this to someone else’s child.

I am appalled at the people who are giving kudos to this guy.

May September 2, 2009, 2:07 PM

If that was my daughter I would grab the first thing I see in the aisle Im in and hit the guy with it. We are talking about a 2 year old not someone who is 4 or 5 that can be easily controlled. SHAME on all the people here that say that it’s the mother’s fault. How would you feel if someone did that to your child or even you.

Leslie September 2, 2009, 2:11 PM

What a bastard! He wouldn’t have gotten that close to my kid though. The mother may have been in shock though and that’s how he was able to get so close to the child. I have a 19 month old and she has had her fair share of temper tantrums in public. It’s the age. A year ago this time, I could take her anywhere and no one would know I had a baby.

Anonymous September 2, 2009, 2:19 PM

Karen Neer- How do you know the mother WASN’T trying to calm the child? 2-year-olds are not known for turning off their emotions like a light switch, just because you say stop crying! And yes, the child COULD have psychological damage from this incident whether she remembers it specifically or not. She will likely shy away from strange men in the future. I can’t stand people who can take a horrible act, turn it around, and somehow find fault with the victim(s)! This man should never have laid one finger on that baby even if she was rolling across the whole store screaming her lungs out. She’s NOT HIS CHILD!

Anonymous September 2, 2009, 2:25 PM

While I agree that no stranger has the right to strike a child, has anyone considered the possiblity that this elderly man may have problems as well. While we are protective of our children sometimes we forget that our parents and grandparents may need help as well.

mom22 September 2, 2009, 2:29 PM

I agree children should behave in public, but that is a LEARNED behavior. For all criticizing the mom, remember, children have to learn to behave. If a mom leaves a store whenever the child throws a fit, that just teaches the child to throw a fit to get mom to leave. My son threw 2-3 fits in stores, realized I would not leave, and doesn’t throw fits anymore. So have sympathy on those teaching their children to behave.

Susan Blind September 2, 2009, 2:32 PM

I’m a 65-year-old grandmother. Generally my children were well behaved or they got a firm hand applied to the seat of the problem. A swat, not a beating. A two-year-old is still a baby. That man would have had a warning the minute he said he’d shut the kid up, that he’d better not lay a hand on my kid or he might get it broken. I might get arrested, but it would be worth it.

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