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traveling with kids

Man Threatens to Break 7-Year-Old’s Legs While on a Plane. Seriously

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Traveling anywhere with kids, whether it’s a plane, subway, train, or car, can be difficult for everyone involved. It’s hard for strangers who might have had a stressful day and just don’t want to hear a toddler screaming; it’s hard for parents (because they’ve had a stressful day and don’t want to hear their toddler screaming); and it’s hard for the kid because they’re bored and restless.

It’s one thing to have another passenger roll their eyes, but it’s another to have someone verbally assault you. One Australian man recently threatened to break a 7-year-old’s legs for kicking the back of his seat. Yes, you read that right.

32-year-old Brett Walter John Gale was just recently fined $750 for his abusive behavior toward a mother and her child on a Virgin Australia flight last August. He pled guilty to offensive and disorderly conduct. So, what exactly happened?

Apparently, the kid was kicking the back of his chair–which is frustrating, I admit–but his reaction was utterly outrageous and frightening. He told the young girl to “stop kicking the fucking seat.”

That’s not OK. But it got worse.

READ: What Traveling with My Child with Disabilities Has Taught Me

After landing, Gale told the child: “Go on, kick the fucking seat again and I will break your fucking legs.” Thankfully, another passenger tried to calm Gale down and told him to leave the child alone. Of course, Gale then challenged the man who was standing up for the mom for a fight. Real mature, right? Are we not in 5th grade anymore?

I don’t need to point out how this behavior is completely abusive, as he’s threatening violence to a child. What upsets me is the fact that he only had to pay a fine–it seems like a pretty light consequence for emotionally traumatizing behavior.

And let’s be real: Yes, kids (and even teens) can be hard to deal with on planes, but I can only hope that adults can respond to these tough situations with kindness, compassion, and empathy, considering we’ve all been an unruly kid once. And of course, it’s always important to note that we don’t know what someone else is dealing with, whether it’s a hard day, special needs, a child with a disability or illness, and we all need to be mindful of that.

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