The account below of a New York woman who was attacked by a panhandler on the subway showcases the real need to be able to defend yourself while holding a small child or infant.
According to this article about the attack, it appears that the child might experience seizures from the injuries he received.
The 21-year-old mother of two children spoke to WCBS-TV but asked not to be identified. She said that her 2-year-old boy was sleeping on her lap when the panhandler began asking passengers for money. When the panhandler got too close to the woman and her toddler, the boy's mother asked her to keep to the social distancing guidelines.
"Ma'am, can you please stay 6 feet away?" the mother recalls saying. "Please back off."
The panhandler was angered by the request and stepped on the mom's foot. Then she began to violently swing her fists at the small boy, hitting him in the face.
"And I was just asking people like, 'yo can y'all please get my baby, please get him, like, and nobody tried to stop, like, she was standing there!" said the woman, who cried during the emotional interview.
This is a good example of why you need to be able to defend yourself while holding a small child. In our women's self-defense curriculum we use a defensive position which allows you to hold your child out of the way of an attacker while using your strongest weapons against the attacker's weakest points. It also allows your head to stay out of range from punches and we introduce the same position for armed defense to be able to shoot an attacker while keeping our handgun away from their grabs.
Let's look at solving this problem from a seated position like this woman found herself to be in:
Use your arms to cover your child's head.
Lean back in the seat as far as you can away from the attacker.
Pull your knees up so your feet are facing towards the attacker.
Push or kick the attacker to the knees, groin, stomach, up to the face.
Kick with alternating feet, like you are pedaling a bicycle.
Keep your feet in between you and the attacker while they still present a threat.
Normally we ask you to make the decision -- do you need to stay with people or go to people? The trouble with this situation is that she is currently with people, but they are not coming to her aid despite her incessant pleas. From an outside perspective, this seems stereotypically New York. But you likely can find this "bystander bias" in most large cities. Since she is on the subway she doesn't necessarily have a place to go to to escape. Unless she can move to another car or lock herself in a restroom.
Does the attack make sense? No of course not, it violates a number of our social norms and would be unexpected by most people. But that does not change our mindset to defend ourselves and our loved ones from any and all attackers.