How far can a parent go when disciplining their child? That question is now being asked in a trial that has been making the news this week. Jessica Beagley of Anchorage, Alaska has been charged with misdemeanor child abuse for the unconventional way she has been punishing her seven-year-old adopted son. These punishments have included putting hot sauce in the boy’s mouth, and making him stand in a freezing cold shower. The mother had previously submitted a home video of her doing these things to the Dr. Phil show, in an effort to get help. In the video, she was upset that the boy had gotten into trouble at school and then lied to her about it. Now prosecutors are saying that these punishments are not reasonable and are tantamount to child abuse.
Discipline is an area that often causes great controversy. What some consider normal punishments may be child abuse to others. Where do we draw the line? If a child uses foul language, can you literally put soap in their mouth? If they lie, can you make them eat hot sauce? If they experiment with smoking, can you force them to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes in one sitting? Unreasonable, yes, but at least those punishments relate to the crimes, and make some kind of logical sense. What is the point of the hot sauce? “Your tongue is on fire with lies, so now it will be on fire with Morton’s Hot Sauce Supreme!” And the cold shower for acting out in class? “Since you gave your teacher the cold shoulder, may your shoulders be cold!” I’m just trying to make some sense of all this.
Many parents act differently behind closed doors. Of course It’s always difficult to disciple a child while in public. It’s an oversimplification, but a good rule of thumb is that if you are ashamed to be doing something in front of other people, it’s probably not the right thing to be doing in the first place. We can now add that if you are embarrassed about the video of you now being shown on the Dr. Phil show and the local news, it’s probably not something you should be doing as well.
With discipline, some say it’s up to the parents to determine what is right for them. That’s only true up to a point. Just as children will try to push boundaries, some parents will test acceptable limits in their own actions. It’s up to us as a society to determine where to draw the line, and where the overall acceptable and legal limits are. Now the jury in Anchorage will have to determine if the mom was indeed committing child abuse, or if she was just creativity using unconventional techniques in her attempt to control her adopted child.
What do you think, was this child abuse? Would hot sauce get you into hot water in your house?
Source: The Huffington Post