Saturday, November 5, 2011

How Not to Spank Your Child. . . Unless You're a Judge?

The video of a judge allegedly beating his sixteen year old daughter in 2004 has gone viral, and has even garnered the attention of mainstream media.

The video was secretly recorded by the daughter and provides viewers with a sensational display. But what does it really represent? An abusive father? Perhaps. Permit me to draw some parallels from my extensive child welfare case files.

I'll start with my own case in 1991. My thirteen year-old son had willfully disobeyed an instruction to perform a certain, benign task. . . making his lunch for school. I discovered it the next morning just before he left for school. He wanted to partake of the school's hot lunch, again, which I would have to pay for. The school refused to let him go hungry as a consequence of not bringing his lunch. I couldn't afford the school lunches. He was manipulating the school to undermine my rules. When confronted with his disobedience, he yelled back. This defiance earned him eight, measured and deliberate swats.

He was told at the outset he would get eight swats. He bent over the bed as instructed. He didn't move, or cry or scream during the spanking. My husband was calm, not angry, and gave the swats without excess force and without striking any other part of the body except the boy's buttocks. Then my son went and made his lunch.

Then he told his counselor at school my husband had beaten him. My son was placed in foster care for the weekend. We were investigated by the child welfare agency for child abuse. They harassed me and repeatedly tried to impose services--despite their admission that I was a good parent--but never filed a dependency complaint. My husband was charged with misdemeanor child abuse. He went to trial(!!) and was acquitted.

How is it that a benign spanking that was not administered in anger, that caused no bruising, could be so harshly prosecuted?

Based on my observations, it has a lot to do with my husband and I not being a judge, or a caseworker, or a cop, or an elected official. . . a member of that privileged class that is such a (wink, wink) secret.

I previously posted about a Wisconsin mother who was charged with a felony for spanking her child with her hand and was charged with felony child abuse. Her case involves prosecutorial misconduct and more. . .because, like me, she isn't a member of the unspoken privileged class in this country.

Based on the reaction of law enforcement and child welfare agencies, the judge/father's spanking would be considered abuse. This is an illustration of the double standard that is institutionalized in this country.

This judge, according to reports, sits in judgement on other parents's parenting practices. Has he ever exercised his discretion to determine that a parent who spanked their child less vigorously than he repeatedly spanked his child was abusive? I sure would like to know.

Let's examine what this video and the news reports reveal: Surprise! This child is not the innocent victim she wants the world to believe.

The child was willfully disobedient. Repeatedly. She remains unrepentant for her disobedience, in fact, is boldly defiant to this day that her wrongdoing contributed in any way to the conduct she complains of. She has been empowered by the child welfare system and society to refuse to correct her disobedience just because daddy was too harsh with her. Her disobedience and unrepentance is, therefore, justified.

But was the spanking really that harsh? She wriggled and screamed during the swats, but the instant daddy was gone, she barely even sniffled and was able to move about without any indication that she was suffering any pain. I am not convinced she was suffering any severe pain. Still, one must concede that the intention of a spanking is to inflict pain, pain being a proven motivator to refrain from the conduct that caused the pain.

But Judge Daddy was wrong, too. Whacking away at whatever part of his child's body he could reach with the belt while she dodges the swats indicates his rage and a desire for retribution, not correction. It places his child at increased risk for injury, and injury is not the proper objective for a spanking. I know of one instance where a boy was dodging his dad's belt and the belt struck him in they eye, costing him his sight. Kids dodging spankings is dangerous for them.

The girl was wrong not to bend over the bed as instructed and take the punishment that her father was entitled to administer, regardless of whether or not she agreed with it. Kids don't get to tell mommy and daddy they can't correct them. Hillary's refusal to comply is another layer of willful disobedience by this (gag) poor little girl. She intended to push Judge Daddy's buttons and make him escalate.  Evidently, it worked.

Judge Daddy screaming threats and insults also serves more to feed his own rage than correct his child. This wasn't done out of loving concern to insure she grew up with the desired values and respect for authority.

Now, watch the video to see if you really missed the points I raised.

If there were bruises, they could, unless one is a judge, satisfy an element for criminal child abuse, but any statute of limitations has to have run out. And, if one were to apply the rationales espoused by the child welfare system, if a man beats his kid, he beats his wife and he is a violent offender.

I do agree with the daughter, that this is a shocking display of lack of control by the judge when provoked by a mere child, giving rise to legitimate concerns about his ability to set aside his emotions and be fair and impartial on he bench. This judge was caught on tape, being exactly who he really is, unaware that he was playing to the world. But I must also concede that the people you love the most can make you far more angry than anyone else can.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that the girl was also caught on tape. She was exposed to the astute observer for being the nasty brat she was, for the world to see. She knew she was being taped, and played to camera to create outrage and gain sympathy. The real offense, in my mind, is that she didn't think she was doing anything wrong when she defied her father's instructions.

Think of how much more sympathetically it could have played if she had meekly assumed the position across the bed and taken the swats obediently. Oh, I see, that would not have enraged Judge Daddy into a whipping frenzy like her outright and defiant disobedience did.

And she continues her masterful manipulation of the rest of the world. She has convinced the world she is the innocent victim. She's not innocent. If you think she is innocent, you're an idiot and you deserve several kids just like her.

And if she's a victim, so is her father. She's victimizing him for provoking him into being an imperfect parent and setting him up for public humiliation. Her premeditated public exposure is no less vicious than his spontaneous spanking. She has personally exposed him to danger. He has received threats against his life. This has happened to me, too, because of a news story. It is patently irresponsible to maliciously expose anyone, much less a family member, to suffer threats against their life and safety from the the increasing unstable members of the public who cannot moderate their own emotional responses, and feel a sense of entitlement to take out their anger on the target of their outrage.

 She was, and is, a self-absorbed brat who still cares for nothing but herself. Otherwise, why would she need to publicly humiliate her father seven years after the fact and be a public victim?

They are both in denial about any wrongdoing on their own part. They are both immature children unworthy of respect.