I hear ya. I'm also childfree-by-choice (having realized early on that I would be a lousy mother) and I'm constantly mystified by some of the things that people let their kids do. My cat is off-limits to kids (and if their parents don't enforce it, Assumpta will take matters into her own paws).
I was in a small independent pet-supply store just yesterday, pricing out cat food, and this girl, maybe seven or so, was intent on patting the resident cat, even after her mother told her to "leave the kitty alone." The mother then wandered off and left the girl alone with the cat, who she would pat by sneaking up from the side and petting it hard a couple of times, then jumping away.
I saw the cat's tail start to twitch, and explained to the girl that when kittycats twitch their tails like that, they don't want to be touched, and maybe she should just stand a little further away and talk softly to kitty instead. The kid stuck her tounge out at me (?!?!?) and patted the cat again the same way. By this point, the cat had taken just about enough and gave her a good swat in the arm (no scratches, just a good scare).
Kid runs screaming to Mom, who starts screaming at the store employees about the dangerous cat, she should sue blahblahblah. I felt obligated to step in and try to explain exactly what had happened, which Mom didn't appreciate. She ended up taking my license plate number out in the parking lot, so I may be going to jail for felony cat defense soon,
but I was really annoyed by the whole situation. I've met this cat many times, and he's pretty mellow...but this kid was waaayyyy out of line. My mom would have clocked me for acting like that (probably still would, come to think of it).
Yup...completely mystified as to how stuff like this happens. I know plenty of kids that are perfectly respectful and fine with critters of all kinds, but then there are kids like this one...makes me glad my work at the shelter is done before we open to the public, I know I'd never be able to be that patient!