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Corporal Punishment or Child Abuse

I remember sitting in the doctor's office and Dr. Phil's show was on. The segment was called "Mommy Confessions." The subject of his program was about parents taking the idea of "corporal punishment" to high extremes. And who was his guest of honor? None other than the recently convicted, 36-year-old, Jessica Beagley.

The video which was aired on Dr. Phil’s show showed this Alaskan mother forcing her son to drink hot sauce and take cold showers as his punishment. The show created such a stir that it eventually led to a police investigation and in turn, she was charged with child abuse.

But the thing that makes me sick in the stomach is that she was charged with a misdemeanor in child abuse. And of course…she wasn’t present at the arraignment. And I’m not too sure what her attorneys were thinking, if they even were, when they said she would plead not guilty.

The reason Beagley was on the show was because she was trying to solve her discipline problem in regards to her 7-year-old son. She did admit to spanking her son and forcing him to do jumping jacks up until the point of exhaustion.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIjQ2Num_9w]

When they showed Beagley on camera, it was a sight for shock. He was forcing hot sauce down his throat because he lied about getting in trouble three times during school. That was his punishment. You could hear her in the video telling her son not to “spit it,” out and to “swish it.” And right after that, he’s forced to take a cold shower, in which you can hear the boy screaming. The screams and cries coming from this child send chills throughout my body when I saw the video on the news.

She stated on the show, “When [he] gets a cold shower, I am at the end of my rope…Nothing’s gotten the results that I want.”

As I said, after the show was aired people were furious that a mother could do such a thing to her own child and people were continuously calling the Anchorage Police Department. It was at this time that the Anchorage Municipal Prosecutor Cynthia Franklin said in court, “that the behavior in the video violates the municipal code protecting against child abuse,” and continued to assert that the action taken against the child was “not reasonable.”

But on the flip-side, Beagley’s deffense attorney, Peter Ramgre asserted to the press that, “CPS (Child Protective Services) has done a complete investigation and found no evidence of abuse of the other children,” and went onto state, “if they believed it was a dangerous situation they would have removed the children.”

But what astonished me the most was what Beagley’s second attorney, Bill Ingaldson stated. He went onto say, “Nothing Jessica has done is criminal. If you give your child food that has hot sauce on it – maybe they eat Mexican food – does that mean its child abuse.”

I may not be a lawyer, but correct me if I’m wrong; If you are forcing a child to drink hot sauce innumerable amounts of time as a form of punishment and the child is aware that this is what is going to happen to them…and ultimately, he or she is scared, then YES, it is child abuse.

Even though Beagley was charged with this misdemeanor, the sad part is that the 7-year-old-boy, is still within the custody of his parents.

Editor’s Note:
If you’re a parent, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the case against Jessica Beagley. We’d love to know what actions you’ve taken when punishing your child. Do you think that this indeed is child abuse? Many, even parents, beg to differ, because the child wasn’t intentionally harmed in these incidents. When is punishment too much punishment? And when is that fine line between punishment and child abuse finally crossed?