ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  (CBS/AP) — A mother told aviation police she slapped her crying 13-month-old daughter on a flight between Dallas and Albuquerque because the child kicked her, authorities said Wednesday.

The explanation came after Southwest Airlines flight attendant Beverly McCurley reported taking the child from the mother during Monday’s flight after seeing the child slapped on the face and hearing passengers complain. McCurley also told authorities the child had a black eye.

The incident has sparked an online debate about when onlookers should intervene in child discipline and comes more than a week after JetBlue flight attendant became a cult hero for announcing on the plane’s PA system he was quitting after allegedly dealing with an unruly passenger. Slater then deployed the flight’s emergency slide as it sat on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy Airport, grabbed a couple beers, and took off.

He was later arrested and charged for his actions. But many across the country applauded Slater for taking a stand. Since the incident, some passengers claimed Slater was in fact the one who was out of line and that the passenger was not at fault. Regardless, the story itself sparked inspiration for frustrated workers dealing with the stress of a down economy.

Both parents told aviation police the black eye came from a dog bite a few days earlier. The mother said an uncle, who had medical training in the military, treated the injury.

Aviation police officer Dana Baldwin said in a written report the mother demonstrated her behavior by lightly hitting the officer’s arm with an open hand.

The baby was checked out by paramedics at Albuquerque airport, a scheduled stop on the flight to Seattle.

The names of the parents were withheld because they were not arrested or charged. The family boarded another flight to continue the trip.

Brad Hawkins, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines, could not provide details about specific training given to flight attendants to deal with such situations. However, he said they were “empowered to simply do the right thing and to maintain the security and the comfort of all of customers onboard.”

Aviation police met the flight at the gate in Albuquerque at the request of Southwest Airlines and interviewed the parents, the flight attendant and a witness involving the report of parents aggressively disciplining their child.

Baldwin said the mother told him she “popped her when she kicked me and that was it.” She told the officer she hadn’t done anything wrong.

The mother also told Baldwin the baby was tired and crying, and “when she’s screaming and she can’t hear me say no, that’s the only way I can get her to stop.”

Aviation police officer Ernesto Rojas said in the report the mother demonstrated putting her finger on the child’s lips to try to quiet her.

McCurley told the officers she saw the mother hit the child on the face with her open hand while the father yelled at the mother to stop screaming at the girl.

McCurley described the mother as agitated with the child, said the woman also slapped the baby on the legs and told the child to shut up.

McCurley said she took the baby and walked to the rear of the plane. She said the father came back, took the child and stood there with her until she fell asleep.

The father told the attendant the parents had several arguments about the mother hitting the child, according to the report.

He told police the mother would occasionally “pop” the child to stop her kicking and screaming, but that the baby had never been hit in the face.

Comments (21)
  1. Ted Neward says:

    It’s ok to Bop a child. It is NOT OK to Pop a child though.
    After all, I Bop, He Bop, They Bop, We All Bop….
    Everyone Bops… right?

  2. Hannah says:

    You wouldn’t slap an adult across the face for not cooperating, so isn’t there another way to get what you want from a child besides having a kiddie bar fight? I can think of 5.

  3. Dmass says:

    Sorry, no 13month old should ever be struck or “popped”. The child is an infant with no capacity to understand the said “discipline”. I don’t enjoy unruly kids, but I can’t stand idiot parents. Grow up and learn how to parent or give the child to a family that cares.

  4. Heather says:

    I’ve never had to ‘pop’, slap, spank, or any other way HIT my children to get them to listen to me. I wish the father of this child would be more of a man and tell his wife to keep her hands off the baby or report her to the police. I’m sure he’s seen her do much worse in the privacy of their home.

    Thank you SW for intervening! I would do the same in a heart beat even though its not PC.

  5. Jim D. says:

    Seems odd that we’re not commenting not on what happened, but on what the news media tells us happened. It’s almost a confilct of interest on the news media’s part, as their entire objective is to create controversy and then report it.

    I’d say cut the mother some slack until the courts can really figure out what actually happened. The news media is neither the judge, nor the jury. Consequently, neither are you.

  6. Jasmine says:

    Kids these days do need to be disciplined more these days, but to “pop” a child is wrong. I’m the the flight attendant did what she did.

  7. LL says:

    Thank God the flight attendant got involved. Too many people look the other way believing parents can do whatever they want to their own kids. They can’t. The mother should have been charged.

  8. Jay says:

    A parent has no rite to strike a child.

    1. SPM says:

      You are an idiot. I hope you do not have children.

  9. Dave says:

    The baby is only 13 months old. You don’t “pop” a 13 month old baby. Three cheers for the SW crew that took the child away from it’s obviously insecure and immature mother.

  10. Mastiff says:

    we’ve really lowered teh bar for calling someone a “hero”, haven’t we?

  11. Terry H. says:

    What the Southwest FA did was justified, but what the JetBlue FA was in NO WAY justified! He was just a prima donna acting out his fanasies…

  12. Rom says:

    The flight attendant should have minded her own business. Parents have the right to discipline their kids the way they want to not have to be questions on it….
    The problem in this country is the lack of discipline. Kids can do what they want and easily get away with this……

    1. Ted Neward says:

      Right on. Parents should be allowed to discipline their children as they see fit. A good example is Caylee Marie Anthony, who was properly disciplined by her mother Casey Anthony down in Orlando. Or course, Caylee was found multilated and dead of undetermined causes.

      Yes Rom, you are so smart. Moron.

      1. Councilman John says:

        This is an example of the pervasive notion of a nanny state mentality… no individual is responsible for their actions, we must always look to another authority for a solution…

        Your argument is ridiculous… using an extreme to justify your position. Murder and assault are illegal; this incident did not fall into that category.

        The Council has ruled.

    2. Helen says:

      There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that a parent should “pop” a 13 month old baby in the face. Disciplining children that can understand why they are being disciplined is one thing but I don’t think a tired, irritated cranky baby quite gets it. I am all for parental rights but in this case the mother was WRONG and even the father thought so. Maybe MAMA should be “popped” a couple of times so she gets the idea that physical force is not the right way to go about someth9ing like this. Kudos for the flight attendant and the father as well for soothing the child.

    3. srk says:

      I am so shocked about your response. Parents have the responsibility to discipline their children but not have the right however they want. There are stories of children being killed and severly beaten b/c no authorities did anything about it. ( We don’t know what goes on at home)! We are talking about the safety of children. I am a mother of a toddler, and yes bringing a child on a plane is not easy, but there is no excuse for slapping a child. That is away to teach your child a lesson, especially a 13 mo. old? If you want you can read and do research on ways to discipline your child through non violence. I don’t think the child should be taken away from his mom b/c of a slap, but I’m still proud of this flight attendant who did it b/c she was concerned about the child safety.

    4. r ford says:

      are you kidding. the chile is 13 months old. I hope you dont have kids

  13. Carole R says:

    Most people are out of control, claim to be entitled, have NO coping skills and are selfish and stupid

    1. Jim D. says:

      Shut up, Carole. You’re out of control!

    2. Who's out of control? says:

      “Most people”? Everyone but you, right?

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