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'You can't do that!': The day I walked into a version of The Slap

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It was my very own version of The Slap.

In the 2008 break-out novel by Christos Tsiolkas and 2011 TV adaptation of the same name, a man loses his temper and slaps a child at a backyard barbecue.

The story is all about the repercussions that rip through the social fabric of a sprawling group of family and friends in suburban Australia.

A scene from The Slap, in which Melissa George plays the mother of the child who was struck.

Fortunately in my case, I wasn't at risk of losing friends but it did raise similar issues of conscience.

A week or two ago I was at a sprawling adventure playground in a large city park.

My children were running around and I was strolling around keeping half an eye on them when I came upon a boy, who looked about 10 years old, and a man I presume to be his father.

The pair faced one another; the man had his back to me and beyond him the child was facing towards me. The man held a big stick, almost a metre long, and deliberately whacked the child over the shoulder with it, hard. The boy cried out in pain.

I wasn’t expecting it so I didn’t know in advance what I would do or should do. What I did do was blurt out in shock, “You can’t do that! It’s illegal!”

The man looked at me confused, like he wanted to explain but didn’t have the words. He left with the child, giving him another big whack across his back - with his hand this time - as they walked.

Later I saw the boy standing outside the toilet block, smiling at me.

I approached cautiously, not wanting to get too........

© Canberra Times