DEAR ABBY: My friend "Nora" was very shaken by something that happened to her recently. While her six grandchildren were visiting, the oldest boy (age 13) shouted, "Let's take her down!" and all six of the children attacked her, knocking her to the ground, then groping and hitting her.
Nora is 73 and only 5 foot 2. Her oldest grandchild is 5 foot 7 and weighs 140 pounds. All of the grandchildren are large for their ages. The youngest, who is 7, weighs well over 70 pounds.
My question is, what can elderly people do to protect themselves? Nora felt helpless. She took the beating because she was afraid if she fought back, she'd be turned in for child abuse. I told her I'd have whacked that 13-year-old monster so hard he'd think twice about ever pulling a stunt like that again.
Now she's afraid of her grandkids because, even though their parents eventually pulled them off her, they did nothing to punish the children for their aggressive behavior. Is there anything older people can do to defend themselves against delinquents? -- SHOCKED IN TOPEKA
DEAR SHOCKED: Are you talking about delinquent children or delinquent parents? Nora's grandchildren were obviously never taught by their parents the importance of behaving respectfully around adults, particularly elderly adults who can be fragile. They could have caused their grandmother serious harm. That the behavior went unpunished is extremely disturbing because if parents don't bother to teach their children right from wrong, their misbehavior could escalate.
While the incident you described might be considered "fun and games" when it occurs between children, when it happens with an adult it becomes assault and battery. In Nora's case, it could be considered elder abuse.
There are two ways to protect oneself from "delinquents" of any age who act like this. The first is to avoid people who do not understand boundaries because their lack of judgment could sooner or later cause great bodily harm. The second is to notify the police and seek immediate medical attention.