A friend of mine was waiting for an appointment in the office of our church, with a lot of other people. She didn't know any of them - it's a big church - but a father caught her attention because he was berating his child. I wasn't there, but it sounded like his little son dropped or knocked over a piece of paper that was directing people and my friend went to help him pick it up. The dad starting in telling the kid that people were counting on him, he had ruined this, look how stupid he is, etc. Then the mom came in from the other room and the dad started telling her how stupid their son is, look what he did, he ruined this, he's so stupid. For dropping a piece of paper.
So, my question is: what does an observer do? I don't know what I would do in that situation but I'm not sure I'd keep my mouth shut. I don't know if it would help to say anything, but - especially if it was a member of my own church community - I would feel some kind of responsibility. But then, what is appropriate - or helpful - to do in that situation?
I'd love to hear from anyone with ideas. I've been in similar situations and have never known what to do. If the dad was beating his child with a belt in public, many of us would step in. I happen to think that yelling at a kid and telling him he's stupid, worthless, etc. has effects that are just as lasting. What would you do?