Stephanie Smith: Is it right or fair to target mums for ridicule?

Piers Morgan, pictured here with co-presenter Susanna Reid, told Wakefield mum Sarah Louise Bryan she was "the worst kind of parent" last week on ITV's Good Morning Britain. Jonathan Ford/ITV/PA Wire
Piers Morgan, pictured here with co-presenter Susanna Reid, told Wakefield mum Sarah Louise Bryan she was "the worst kind of parent" last week on ITV's Good Morning Britain. Jonathan Ford/ITV/PA Wire
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When did the mums of young children become social pariahs, parked at the top of the UK’s most-hated list, alongside bankers, estate agents, politicians and journalists?

We have disease, poverty, unthinkable war crimes, Brexit and Trump to worry about, yet there is still room among the headlines to focus on the sheer audacity and thoughtlessness of some mothers.

This week, Derby mum Izabela Szczepanska found herself the target of online outrage following local residents’ claims that she has been selfishly blocking their driveways with her Land Rover as she drops her son off at primary school.

In her defence, she says she’s not the only one with a white car and may be the victim of mistaken identity. It’s all suspiciously like a recent Am I being Unreasonable (AIBU) thread on Mumsnet, but nothing beats a parking row for unleashing first-world resentment.

On live TV last week, Piers Morgan reduced Wakefield mum Sarah Louise Bryan to tears as she attempted to defend sending a bill for £325 to a fellow parent after her three-year-old daughter’s designer shoes were damaged on a playdate.

She was accused of being “the worst kind of parent” by the Good Morning Britain host, and again the Outraged of Onlineville were quick to condemn, especially because Ms Bryan had revealed her daughter owns 60 pairs of shoes.

“There will not be a mother or father watching this interview who is not looking at you thinking ‘what on earth are you doing buying a three-year-old girl 60 pairs of shoes? Some of them worth £325’,” said Morgan, adding that the £325 bill made her look “preposterous”.

Ms Bryan, clearly rattled and tearful, said: ‘This is to do with the cyber-bullying and people having a go constantly. It’s not fair and it’s not right.’

And maybe, just maybe, it isn’t fair or right. Yes, school run parking can be annoying. And perhaps it is silly to buy designer shoes for a three-year-old, and even sillier to send a bill when, inevitably, they get damaged, but do these acts warrant such gleefully unpleasant reactions?

Thanks to social media and online forums, it’s easy for snap judgements, nasty thoughts and thinly veiled prejudice to be fired instantly at anyone who dares stick their head outside their own front door. School mums with the money to buy fancy shoes and Land Rovers are being targeted for ridicule and spite from the “I’m sorry, but …” brigade of small-minded bullies, a surprising number of whom are female, despite their alarming misogyny.

Enough already. Isn’t it time to aim all that outrage and anger at those who really deserve it?

Alexandra Shulman. PIC: PA

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