According to Merritt Smith, when she sought care for her 4-year-old at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, after a boy hit her in the face, a hospital worker told the girl "I bet he likes you."
Smith posted the story with a photo of her daughter's injury, which required stitches, on her personal Facebook page. It has gathered over 28,000 shares.
"That statement is where the idea that hurting is flirting begins to set a tone for what is acceptable behavior," Smith writes in the post. "My 4-year-old knows that's not how we show we like someone. That was not a good choice."
In a comment on the post, Smith writes "It is time to rewrite the script. What has been does not have to continue being."
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten, and 1 in 3 women will face intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
The hospital responded to the incident on their Facebook page Friday.
The hospital confirmed they had reached out to the family, met with the employee and the employee's management and other hospital employees to understand the situation "and take measures to prevent this from happening ever again."
"This comment does not represent our philosophy as an institution," the hospital wrote.
"The employee made a comment that had no malicious intent, but that started a broader discussion on Facebook about the cultural message to young children that hitting may imply flirting. We in no way condone violence or this attitude toward any type of relationship."
Smith did not immediately return Mic's request for comment.