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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
Amy September 2, 2009, 2:33 PM

I think that the people on here criticizing the mom are being incredibly insensitive and cruel. The child was 2 years old—what exactly was the mom supposed to do to instantly quiet her?! They call it the terrible 2’s for a reason, you know! If she had tried to correct the child in the store no doubt she would have had some parenting-nazi up in her face criticizing how she handled the child. And as for the person who said shame on her for allowing the guy to touch her child, I’m fairly certain that it probably happened so fast that she didn’t have a chance to respond immediately. It’s so easy to pass judgment on other moms, but it’s a lot better in the long run to be supportive and considerate of them.

Jenny (again) September 2, 2009, 2:33 PM

I can’t believe some people are blaming the child here, she is two for goodness sakes..seriously people. You don’t know that this woman’s husband isn’t deployed and maybe she HAS to go out with her kid cranky or not, maybe her kid has autism or another issue…kids are cranky, life goes on , it’s not like its a movie theater or a restaurant, its Wal-Mart.

If that man has issues then I hope he gets the help he needs, from his picture he just looks like a mean old man.

Angela September 2, 2009, 2:37 PM

To all the “lovely” people saying that a child is a brat and miserable, SHAME ON YOU. A two year old is a child. Some expect children to be perfectly behaved all the time. They are just learning how to control their emotions when they are toddlers. It’s a trait that many struggle with their whole lives (ie road rage). While it is uncomfortable for others when a child is crying in public, try putting yourself in the parents’ shoes. They are trying their best to do what they can. Slapping a child for crying should never be the answer.

Anonymous September 2, 2009, 2:40 PM

control your kid or this will happen to you

nannerdove September 2, 2009, 2:42 PM

When a child starts to have a meltdown that’s when you abandon your shopping and return to the car. End of shopping…time to go home cuz someone needs a nap. Works everytime, and no one gets yelled at or hit. THE PARENT IS IN CONTROL AND MUST KNOW THAT CHILD CANNOT DEAL WITH ANYMORE AND IT’S TIME TO LEAVE. No purchase is worth staying in the store for. and it’s a matter of respect to the other shoppers—it sends a msg too to the chile that this behaviour is not acceptable at this time.

Jude September 2, 2009, 2:43 PM

Just because this is an old man does not give him the right to touch a child or slap a child.

Lisa Thompson September 2, 2009, 2:54 PM

I think that the man did the right thing. Some of these mothers need to take charge of their children. Too bad a stranger has to do the mothers job.

dianna September 2, 2009, 2:56 PM

I hate shopping because of all the out of control children. These mothers that obviously DO NOT discipline with consistiency need to take the kids out of the store and home if they cannot get it under control. I would be embarrassed, why arent they? But this man nor anyone else EVER has any right to lay a hand on someone elses child. it is a fine line to even lay a hand on your own child!!!!!!

mollysmom September 2, 2009, 3:00 PM

are you kidding me with some of these responses??!! slapping a 2 year old child is not right, i don’t care what she’s doing. those of you who say you’re children are so well behaved…i wouldn’t want to be your kids because i doubt they have much fun oh and i’d hate to get slapped across the face which apparently you approve of.

Merl September 2, 2009, 3:07 PM

From all the news I’ve read about this, the mother was trying to calm her child down… may be that was the only time she could shop. She was probably shocked that this man slapped her daughter that she didn’t have enough time to react. And yes, the 2 yr old will have psychological problems. Come on, people, you don’t slap a stranger’s child NO MATTER WHAT!!! That is just plain common sense.

GalaxyThine September 2, 2009, 3:11 PM

Aren’t YOU all the same people who wanted that little boy on the WIFE SWAP reality show beaten LIKE THE REDNECK he is just because he sounded off in his OWN HOME in a way I THOUGHT was full of personality and cute but YOU all thought he needed a beating?

Get your priorities straight here. Being out in public does NOT GIVE THE STUPID MOM the right to destroy his PEACE (or MY PEACE when it happens to me) OUT IN THE PUBLIC by not controlling her child. THE WOMAN should have been slapped a few times too.

I get sick to death of hearing screaming children in public and I think there should be a law passed to stop this blatant disregard for my PEACE out in PUBLIC.

YET this is the very same crowd who wanted a little boy beaten for sounding off in HIS OWN HOME? Yeah right… kiss off.

Kay September 2, 2009, 3:12 PM

First, I have three children of my own.I remember terrible two’s! I would never allow a stranger to slap my matter what they were doing. Tantrums are a part of childhood, I used to laugh them off and ignore them, that’s what EVERYONE should do! Walk away and ignore your child this shows them they have no power!!
The subject is the man’s behavior— which should not be ignored. You just don’t go around slapping every bad child you want to! I know adults I’d like to slap, but I just don’t.
People who say children shouldn’t be smacked when they are unruly are wrong too…If you never disapline your child they will never ever listen and will walk all over you. It’s never ok to physically hurt or abuse a child, but as a parent you have the right to have responsible control over your child. And there are certain situations where a smack is neccesary, however a tantrum of a baby is not one of them.
Shame on that nasty old man!!!! I would have slapped him back!

ashley September 2, 2009, 3:21 PM

this is absolutly outrageous. had someone done that to my child they should be terrified of whats i’d do to them! people who are saying its the mothers fault or the childs are completely insane! a two year old is a two year old. SIMPLE. they dont listen often, its called the terrible twos! a mother can try to control it but this usually comes to no avail. that man had no right to touch this child.

Sarah September 2, 2009, 4:16 PM

Let’s just say that I am pissed over what some of you people have said. As a mother of a five year old, I have had many times over the years where my child has had a fit or has cried uncontrolably in the middle of Wal-Mart. These days b/c I wont buy her something. That man had no right to lay a hand on that child and anyone that says he does needs to have their head examined. Plus, we don’t know that the mother wasn’t trying to stop him. But in my experience it can be very difficult to comfort a child once they get started.Kudos to those people that helped stop this man from leaving the store b/c he could have gone to another store and done the same thing to another crying child.

India September 2, 2009, 4:48 PM

Some of you people on here are absolutely psychotic! To ever say its ok for a stranger to smack a baby for crying in a store is absolutely crazy. Sorry we all don’t live in your perfect little bubble with ur perfect children that never throw tantrums (yeah right!), most likely because your the perfectly fake people that beat your kid black and blue behind closed doors and their scared to death to make a peep. This old bastard wouldn’t have made it out of the store if he laid a pinky on my children, let alone smacked them and more than once?! Kids are kids they will throw tantrums, sometimes their tired, frustrated or maybe even coming down with something so this is how they voice themselves get over it!! I suppose some of you people would also agree that its ok to shake a baby when its crying uncontrollably. There are some sick minded ignorant people in this world!

msray September 2, 2009, 5:14 PM

Ok…for all of you people who say it was ok for that man to slap that 2yr old, SLAP YOURSELVES!!!! I wish that wulda been me, HE WULDA BEEN SLAPPED!!!! And how the H*** u let someone get that close to your child? aint no way! and i dont agree with the people who say stop shoppin and take the child home…WTF are u serious? it’s plain and simple its a are the parent please act like it! Stop always tryin to please the child, u will never get anything done b/c the child will control u. and yes its possible to control a 2yr old in the store. When we were younger my mama did not play that! Even when we got older and our younger siblings were acting up, we already knew to straightin them out b4 mama got em. So i know it possible. And if you doin ur job as a parent at home then u wont have to worry about bein embarrassed at the store. im a mother myself and if she was to behave uncontrolably in the store i dnt give a d*** who watchin imma do what i have to do. a tired child is one thing but a brat is another. People control your kids in public b4 they grow up to be some horrible adults!

Renae September 2, 2009, 5:47 PM

Y’all are crazy. No one has the right to hit a child. So the kid was fussing? What was stopping this man from 1)Minding his own dang business and 2) Walking away? Did he need to stalk this poor woman to ensure she parented in a way he saw fit? I’ll bet his kids have nothing to do with him because obviously he’s off his rocker.

I’m a mom of 2, and pregnant with my 3rd. My kids have, once in a while, had melt downs in the store. tired or bored or want a toy who knows? And, most times I was able to calm them down, but sometimes they were inconsolable…hitting them sure as heck wouldn’t have solved anything. And nope, I can’t just leave and come back. We’re a 1 car family, I only get the car when I make a special effort to have it…and that isn’t often.

Jenny September 2, 2009, 6:19 PM

I love how they just pick and choose which comments to put up. People are swearing on here, supporting a child beater and yet I try to leave a comment specific to one other persons comment and it never makes it up….three times I have tried…what happened to freedom of speech? Nothing I have said has been worse than what anyone else has said.

Sara Jane - IN Parent September 2, 2009, 6:33 PM

This is a truly horrific incident - SHOCKING! Clearly a sign of a sick society!


Is this man senile? He looks absolutely cruel. But you just don’t strike/hit/slap or even threaten to do it to another person’s - stranger or not - child!

Jennifer September 2, 2009, 6:53 PM

The moment this man threatened my child I would’ve been in his behind one way or another. He wouldn’t have gotten close enough to my child after his threat. No one can raise a hand to my child but myself and very close family members, also, no one should slap a child in the face. So that’s 2 strikes for him.

I have 6 children in a blended family. Most of my babies were pretty well tempered at that age, some were not. Children are whiny at that age, but mostly wont have a crying fit. There are those that do, however, either they had a lond day out with mom and missed a nap, may have some underlying medical condition, or gets away with it on a norm so will do so because mom allows the behavior. At what point in those circumstances would it be the childs fault.

When I see kids screaming for candy, yes, mom should disipline. But, she shouldnt, nor should a stranger, slap a baby in the face. That is wrong. A talk, the eye or a quick smack on the butt for those that beleive in spankings. Thats is all that is needed.

So, with that said… Baby may have a reason for her tamtrum, or may need a little disipline. We dont know the whole story, but the man was out of line.

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