This is not really surprising to me. I have seen these cases plenty of times. There are 2 angles of looking at this type of case.
#1- Parent exhibiting abusive act towards the child and DOES NOT want the authorities to know about it.
In this case, they will do their best to
- ‘Hide The Injuries / Marks’ sustained by the victim being abused when in public;
- Put on an ‘Act Of Over Caring’ parent when in public
- ‘Threaten The Victim’ to not indulge any of the incident on abusive to authorities / anyone
- ‘Resume Abuse’ when alone with victim.
#2- Parent who DON’T MIND public interference OR anyone /authorities questioning them.
- ‘Not Attempt To Hide Any Injuries / Marks’ sustained due to child abuse. This is because of the guilty nature in them and they will try to seek medical help for the child.
- They ‘Will Inform Closed Ones’ on how naughty the child is at home and that ‘They May or May Not’ need help managing the child. This greatly depends on whether the parent is willing to get professional help or waiting for someone to approach them in a ‘Non-Confrontational Manner’ to talk about handling of their child. They ‘Do Not Want The Child To Get Into Trouble’.
- They will not threaten the child but may ‘Inform The Child Not To Discuss About The Incidents’ with others as this may have got to do with the child’s behavior that triggered the violent nature of the parent. They will explain this to the child concern.
- The abuse may continue when alone although both the parent and the victim ‘Does Not Realize That The Action Is Termed As Child Abuse’. – It may seem to the parent as a form of discipline and for the victim it may feel that he/she is being punished for the mistake.
For the former, I will refer the case to the relevant authorities as there is a criminal intent or ‘mens rea’ in wanting to abuse the child to satisfy the violent nature in oneself. It is better for the child to be separated from the abusive parent.
For the latter, I will approach the matter cautiously and offer counselling sessions to work on the root cause that triggers the violent nature of the parent. Most of the time, the parent in this category will not even realize that ‘It Is Not Ok’ to assault or abuse the child. The act of ‘abuse’ almost immediately stops the moment they realize their mistakes.
In addition, the parent will also go through problem management and anger management course. It must be noted that the child, in this type of cases, will also not want to be separated from the parent, even though it ‘Appears To Us As The Child Being Abused’. However, if there are marks of assault or abuse, then proper medical examination has to be done on the victim and the parent will still have to answer to the law irrespective whether the action was intentional or not . This ‘Must Be Explained’ to the parent. The difference here is on our approach. For the former, the approach is on handling a criminal while for the latter the approach is on helping the parent.
Disclaimer: There are many outcomes to this. All really depends on the investigation of the relevant authorities and the counselling sessions. Usually the First Information Report may point to an initial offense but upon proper investigation, the case will be classified in a different manner.
Never make the mistake of exposing the parent through social media etc. This will further aggravate the situation and cause unnecessary hatred against the parent concerned.
My explanation above was to give a broader perspective on how this case will be handled. But in answering your question specifically on what to do if you were to witness this type of case, you may just inform the relevant authorities and let them handle the issue.