The joy of welcoming a new baby into the world is indescribable. As their eyes open, their mind appears flooded with questions eager to rely on someone for answers. That eagerness to learn makes it exciting to teach how to talk, walk, eat, and possibly sign language. But as they get older and inevitably test the waters, raising a responsible and well-behaved child becomes more like a series of trial and error mixed with hope and prayer. Some parents have found spanking to be an effective disciplinary tool to discourage inappropriate behavior. In Virginia, however, a state court said no.
The Virginia mother, a divorced dentist, spanked her six-year-old daughter with a leather belt because her daughter misbehaved in school. A couple of days later, the father discovered bruises on the girl’s thigh and notified the police. The mother was charged with felony child abuse. Under the state statute, the prosecutor must show the mother seriously injured the minor child. While her attorney was eager to defend her actions, she ultimately entered an agreement with the prosecutor to plea guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery on a family member. The judge agreed to dismiss all charges if the mother refrained from spanking or causing any other harm to the child for two years.
Had the father contested the mother’s parenting or presented a history of abuse, court intervention may have been warranted. But the father conceded she was a good mother and the mother claimed this incident was the first time she spanked her daughter. And she had good reason, punishment for bad behavior. Earlier this week a separate couple was removed from a restaurant for permitting their kids to run around the venue disturbing customers. A separate restaurant in Houston banned children under age eight from its facilities after 7pm due to complaints from patrons about loud children. Since parents are blamed for their child’s misconduct, should they be reprimanded for taking corrective action with a belt? Obviously the law does draw a line and there are experts claiming spankings have several adverse affects on children, but should we not balance the love and care given to a child along with spanking as punishment before passing any judgment?