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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 @ Thoughts of THAT Mom September 3, 2009, 10:30 AM


I can’t get past the first couple of comments.

OTHER moms are CONDONING this man’s actions because the MOM or 2yr old child should have done differently? Are you FLIPPIN’ kidding me? SERIOUSLY?

God forbid those of you with perfect children ever have to take a tired, sick, or just cranky child into a store. Heaven forbid you ever have your child NOT be perfect…

Because it will happen. Trust me. It will.

Shelly September 3, 2009, 10:40 AM

I had my first Wal-mart experience when my first child was 6 months old. It was a Friday night and parents were “discipling” there children every where I turned. It was 9:30 and most of them needed to be in bed. I was so physically sick from what I witnessed that I took my child and went to the car, leaving Hubby inside to finish his return. I knew if I stayed, I would end up in jail for slapping a parent. I vowed to never go back and haven’t. That was 6 years ago.

While I do not blame Wal-mart for the actions of their customers, I feel they breed this caliber of clientele (and some good ones too).

While this man’s actions are completely inexcusable, and I hope he gets some serious time for it, I’m not surprised it happened where it did. I’d of clocked him the second he got close to my kid!

Alicia September 3, 2009, 11:23 AM

I would have picked up the first thing I could have found and gave him a gaping concussion in his head and it would be the last time he chose to assault a child! What a moron!

JT September 3, 2009, 12:48 PM

I tell you what, I am sick and tired of these kids always screaming and crying in stores and restaurants and movie theaters (of course what crying children were doing watcing Saw IV I haven’t the foggiest). I just wish they would shut up too! I think this man is an american hero for taking action when no one else would. It’s like every parent thinks their kid is great… well let me tell you something, I drive down the highway everyday to work and you should see the losers sitting next to me in traffic. Well they were someone’s child too and look how they turned out. Soft parenting; thats the tragedy in America. So I say, if you are somewhere and you see a kid acting up, after you slap the kid a few times, slap the parent too. Do it for our nation. GO USA!!!

corrin September 3, 2009, 12:51 PM

That little girl’s tantrum would have been nothing compared to mine if a stranger slapped my child.

Darlene September 3, 2009, 1:03 PM

I have been in a store on numerous occasions where children have been crying or making a fuss.

My first reaction, how embarrassing for that poor mother because I know there are people like this man who are standing there judging her to be a bad mother because her child is making a fuss.

My second reaction, thankfulness that my kids are generally well behaved. I only ever had to carry my 13-year-old out of a store once when he was 7.

If I happen to be in the general vicinity and think I can help calm the child down, I do so with a kind word. My child has a form of autism and I have learned to speak very succinctly. Perhaps the mom is so stressed she’s run out of kind words or just doesn’t know what to say. I would never in a million years dream of smacking another mother’s child. I would treat that child like I would like someone to treat mine.

There’s a difference between not paying attention to your children when they really need you, and ignoring your child and their tantrum so you don’t give them the negative attention they’re trying to get from you.

I was in a store recently where a much older child (probably around 4) was screaming at the top of his lungs. It was clear that he did not like being told no. He wanted something and his mother was not going to give in. My comment to another person in the store at the time was - with the attitude of how I felt for her embarrassment - that she was doing the right thing in not giving in to her child’s demands. Doing that would just reinforce the behaviour that if he/she continues to make a scene in public he/she gets the candy he/she wants.

I’m surprised at the lack of compassion shown by many of the comments for both the mother and the child, and especially this man.

Kids will act up. That’s the nature of kids. Sometimes the best thing is to just ignore them. Sometimes the best thing is to drop what you’re doing and go straight home. But what this man did was absolutely deplorable.

Treat others like you would like to be treated. Like Jesus would treat them. I can’t imagine Jesus ever striking a child.

Chris September 3, 2009, 2:05 PM

You can’t “control” every little thing your child does. If they are throwing a temper tantrum, your best bet is to just leave, and try it again later. Crying is not screaming, or throwing a fit. Iknow how hard it can be in a store with children. I have a five year old and twin two year olds. I have left stores crying myself. But sometimes, you HAVE no choice in shopping. I didn’t ask to be a single parent, with no help. You might be “annoyed” with what is going on when you are witnessing someone else’s children having meltdowns, but you don’t know the story. You don’t know anything about them, so don’t make assumption. And I can tell you this: I study Martial Arts. If ANYONE came up and laid a hand on my child, I would seriously hurt them. I am not a fighter, I learn it for self defense. But those insticts would kick in pretty damn quick.

BRENDA September 3, 2009, 2:20 PM

I dont believe a stranger should lay a hand on another person, child or not. that is insane. But I have seen and witness how some mother/parents just let their children get out of hand to the point were it does bother others. I am a single mom of an 11 year old boy and I can tell you this, he has never acted out in a store not that he is perfect but i think it has a lot to do with the parents. But i strongly disagree with a stranger toughing my child. He is getting what he deserves. Walmart, Kmart, or where ever it is doesnt matter, you dont have to stand there and listen when you are free to walk away and ignore it.

Auriette September 3, 2009, 2:40 PM

I wouldn’t have slapped the child, but I have wanted to see her get a spanking. I knew better than to have a tantrum as a child, because my parents controlled me. I turned out just fine. There’s a difference between discipline and abuse. There’s also a difference between a crying baby and a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.

I will say this, when I was in college, I let a woman and her children come into my parents home, I was there alone, and her car had broken down. I let her in to use the phone and she decided to wait inside for help to arrive. One of her kids grabbed a kitten of mine and was treating it really roughly, and I don’t remember exactly what I did, if I smacked the kid’s hands or anything, but I did take the kitten away and chastise the child quite firmly. Mom didn’t get angry with me, but she did leave very quickly after that. That was me defending my baby.

shelley September 3, 2009, 3:56 PM

I imagine this man MUST have some psychological problems. No one in their right mind thinks it is okay to hit a stranger’s child.

Sometimes children behave badly in public, parents should do their best to minimize the disruption to others, but sometimes the adult simply cannot make the child do/stop doing something (I cannot make my child swallow a veggie.)

The lack of empathy to the victim and to the attacker seem so strange. I do wonder, along with some other commenters, how this man was able to get so close to the child.

What a weird story.

Rani  September 3, 2009, 4:31 PM

my mom used to beat the hell out of me for no reason. it would have been refreshing to have been slapped for something specific, at least.

Monica September 3, 2009, 5:15 PM

All I know is what kind of mother lets this dude hit her child once with out putting her foot up his anus. Really come on. You let someone touch my child like that and we will both be in jail. I’d probably get off with temp. insanity, though.

Firm Mom September 3, 2009, 5:31 PM

I think the way a parent and child act in public is the way they act at home. I don’t think just because the child was two she could not be controlled. I hate to see kids acting a fool in public. My daughter is 10 and she shakes her head when she sees it happening. If parents start teaching kids how to act at an early age they will not have so many problems later. No, the man should not have laid a hand on the child.

Anonymous September 3, 2009, 5:55 PM

It astounds me that most of these comments are more upset at crying babies than a COMPLETE STRANGER slapping her…and what difference does it make what kind of store she was in???? The father of this child should be showing this BIG BULLY what those slaps feel like to a baby! Everybody is talking like this is a discussion on the merits of spanking, it is not! I am in favor of normal spanking, kids do need discipline, but only by the PARENT OR GUARDIAN, not by some maniac following the mother around the store.I was brutalized (hit) when I was 2, also he was a stranger I never forgot it,and I wasn’t even crying.

Brittney September 3, 2009, 6:49 PM

they would have had to call security on me after I tackled him and started slapping him in the face. Children will be children, and mean old farts will be mean old farts, but I would have slapped him back and probably gone to jail myself after I was done with him.

lynn September 3, 2009, 8:11 PM

all of you commenters on the stranger slapping a 2 year old side, I bet you would want to slap him if that were your child. He could’ve really done seriously harm like hitting her in the eye, broken her nose. Would you be on his side for that.

Brenda September 3, 2009, 8:32 PM

I would like to ask “Mr. Evil” what right he felt he had to place his hand on someone else’s child? Maybe because there is a fullmoon tonight or perhaps because this is my deceased daughters birthday that I am feeling so bitter towards this mans actions. My daughter died of an inoperable brainstem tumor two weeks before Christmas in 1981. Her last request was to go to the department store just one week before she died,to buy Christmas gifts for her Father, baby brother and for me. I am sure she must have cried because she was in excruciating pain from the tumor, but despite the looks we must have gotten from pushing a crying child in a wheelchair through the department store, a child who was so close to death, but despite her own pain begged to go to shopping to buy gifts for her family. Sadly we fought back our own tears and took her shopping. We fulfilled her final request. If this psyco had been around on then and smacked my child in her face for crying I can guarantee you I would still be behind bars today! The child you smacked may have been ill “Mr. Evil”. Could you not have at least asked the Mother if she needed help for her child, if there was something you could do to help her before you so rudely came unglued? You make me ill! I will say a prayer tonight before I go to bed, not for you but for God to take away this bitter feeling you have placed in my heart. But before I say my prayers tonight, I ask you on behalf of every Mother including your own, How dare you? Who do you think you are? What right do you feel you had to place your hand to a childs face and strike it repeatidly? No child deserves that! Go crawl back under the rock from which you came!!!

cindy September 3, 2009, 10:34 PM

Imagine it? I’ve dreamed of it. It is about time someone had the balls to do something about a bratty kid who won’t shut up. I hate bratty kids and hate their stupid cow-brained mothers more for not disciplining their brats. No one wants to listen to that crap in public places. If your kid is a brat, leave it home.

tina September 4, 2009, 5:30 AM

Shocking! Slapping a two year old that isn’t even you child is the sign of a deeply disturbed individual. That is one sick dude. Two year old children get cranky they cry, even if you felt the parent wasn’t controlling their child it is THEIR child! and to slap a two year old child on the face several times is just despicable. His actions demonstrated that he; a grown man, has no self control and the mentality of a two year old. I think this sicko would do society a favor and remain behind bars until he gets the help he so desperately needs. Who knows what someone like that is capable of.

Carolee September 4, 2009, 6:37 AM

Kids screaming in a store irritate me, too.

My oldest WAS one of those kids, and I didn’t know how to say no (just wanted to shut him up so I’m not embarrased!)I was a young 1st time mother.

Since my 2 youngest kids were infants, if we were in a store and a kid was throwing a fit somewhere, I would look at MY kid and say (quietly of course) something like, “Boy, someones not happy! Other shoppers don’t want to hear that! How embarrasing for the parent!”

I will admit, I had to leave a store once because of a melt down by one of the kids. They learned!

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