Merritt Smith’s 4-year-old daughter, Joni, was beaten up by a boy in school on October 5, and the hospital worker at the registration desk said, “I bet he likes you.”
Needless to say, Merritt Smith was not happy at all with the statement’s implication and how it would affect her 4-year-old daughter. The woman posted a disturbing photo showing the child with an open gash and swollen cheekbone after she was allegedly hit with a metal teapot at preschool the following day, according to CBS News.
After receiving the call every parent dreads from the preschool, Merritt Smith rushed her daughter to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where she had to get two stitches. But when the man getting them registered told the little girl “I bet he likes you” about her attacker, Smith had a huge problem.
The distraught mother took to Facebook to express her dismay at what the hospital worker told her child about what happened to her.
“Dear man at the registration desk at Children’s hospital, I’m positive that you didn’t think that statement through. As soon as I heard it I knew, that is where it begins. That statement is where the idea that hurting is flirting begins to set a tone for what is acceptable behavior. My four-year old knows ‘That’s not how we show we like someone. That was not a good choice.'”
Merritt Smith went on to say that when her 4-year-old injured child needed comfort from the hospital worker, she heard that someone who likes you will hurt you. Smith feels strongly that this is not the way people show each other they like them. Her Facebook post has received national attention, with social media leading the way.
The post has been shared over 35,000 times, and hundreds are voicing their opinion about the incident. Merritt Smith argued that as the first person who sees a patient coming in to get treated in the emergency room, this worker has a big influence on an uncertain, scary situation.
“Do Not tell my 4-year-old who needs stitches from a boy at school hitting her ‘I bet he likes you.’ NO,” Smith wrote.
On October 14, Merritt Smith made another statement on Facebook, clarifying her first one from earlier in the month. In her post, the mother explains that school officials and the parents of the child who hit her 4-year-old daughter handled the incident appropriately, and she does not have issues with those parties.
Once again, Merritt addressed who she calls a “young man” working at the registration desk of the Children’s Hospital where her daughter received treatment. After “sleeping on it,” Smith continues to have problems with the man’s statement.
Smith insists the comment is planting a seed at a young age of what’s an acceptable way of showing affection for another person. Merrill believes such a statement is part of society’s larger issues with the way violence is viewed.
“At the registration desk, I was given an information pamphlet and a questionnaire on assistance for victims of domestic violence. I felt there was a huge disconnect between the comment and its message and these materials, which both came from the same place.”
A bigger issue for Merritt Smith as a mother of a young girl is that, as she explains on her Facebook post, Joni had her first experience of losing control over her own body to a scary procedure, while at the same time getting the conflicting statement that it happened because she is liked. Read Merritt’s full statement below.
On Monday, October 12, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, made a statement indicating they are aware of the comment made by their staff member and Merritt Smith’s Facebook statement. The hospital offered their apologies.
“Although we know the comment was made with no malicious intent, it is our wish to apologize and express to you that this is something we are taking seriously. This comment does not represent our philosophy as an institution.”
Nationwide Children’s Hospital reached out to Smith on the same day her original post appeared on Facebook and said they have met with the employee in question and management to assure something like this never happens to another patient.
[Image courtesy of Merritt Smith/Facebook]