Albuquerque, N.M. 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.
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.
The incident has sparked an online debate about when onlookers should intervene in child discipline.
McCurley also told authorities the child had a black eye.
Both parents told aviation police the black eye came from a dog bite a few days earlier.
The baby was checked out by paramedics at Albuquerque airport, a scheduled stop on the flight to Seattle. 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.”
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.