Thursday, August 18, 2011


Travelling through villages in a very poor country once, I was struck by how happy and well behaved the children were. I never once saw a parent discipline a child. The children would help the adults with meals and such, and the rest of the time they were allowed to roam free and play.

I think I'm more disturbed at all the commenters who seem to be supporting the abusive mother's 'right' to squirt hotsauce into a child's mouth and put him in a freezing shower whilst waxing lyrical about the good ol' days of the strap.

In a case that has drawn international attention, jurors on Wednesday watched video showing an Alaskan mother squirting hot sauce in the mouth of her adopted son. Her attorney said it was punishment for misbehaving at school and lying about it to his mother. The video was originally aired on a Dr. Phil episode and caused a public uproar in Russia where the boy is from. The footage, along with audio of the boy screaming as he's forced to stand in a cold shower, was shown as part of Jessica Beagley's trial Wednesday on misdemeanour child abuse charges.
Prosecutors say Beagley went beyond what would be considered reasonable parental discipline. Her lawyer, William Ingaldson, said she resorted to unconventional disciplinary methods because more traditional forms of punishment had not worked with the boy.
Beagley, along with her police officer husband, adopted the boy and his twin brother from a Russian orphanage after their parents abandoned them, Ingaldson said. The boys were taken there after Russian investigators found their family living in a shack, where the boys slept on shelves in an armoire, he said.

Read the comments and people seem to be arguing for the right to exact violent punishment on children. The child's crime in this case? Being a child: "sword-fighting with pencils and wriggling in his seat at school." Maybe the child lied for the same reasons torture induced confessions aren't reliable. Maybe when her punitive, confession inducing approach, didn't work she might have considered her approach to be flawed instead of just punishing harder.

Recalling my introductory comment, I suspect mother in this report and her pro-abuse supporters in the comments are missing a major point. Sticking a ball of energy like a child in a orderly space like a classroom or having them conform to certain home routines is often forcing the child to fit routines of adult lives and expectations. When these might be beyond the capacity of the child to adopt, the wee one is punished by unreflexive people who don't understand the difference between discipline and punishment.

In Canada, this desire to punish for any sort of deviance explains much about why we have the government we do. Prisons and workhouses. Combat deployments in poor countries that step out of line. The Cons are dialing back the clock on the armed forces and foreign policy, why not bring back corporal punishment to keep the kids  in line? 


Edith Prickly said...

Oh yes, the good old days when no one questioned a parent's god-given right to beat the hell out of their kids in the name of discipline. It's the easiest thing in the world to hit a kid when they piss you off - they can't fight back, they're a lot smaller than you are. Trouble is, discipline by fear and pain only works for so long. One day that kid's going to be big enough to hit back, and there's going to be a volcano of resentment behind that blow. Not to mention that a kid who has been disciplined by external shows of force often doesn't develop any internal brakes on self-destructive behaviour.

As for the hot sauce/cold shower punishment, here's my plain-talkin', no-nonsense opin-yun:that woman is a sadist, and those boys should go to a family that can deal with their behavioural issues without resorting to physical torture. She's a disgrace.

double nickel said...

What Edith said.

Purple library guy said...

Why am I not surprised she's the wife of a police officer?
The kid was probably better off sleeping on the shelves of an armoire with his own family. It's one of the shames of modern Russia (and Canada) that families can end up in that kind of situation in the first place. Seems to me it'd be better to help the kids and their family together than to yank the kids away and then hand them to a sadistic cop family. But the authorities always know best, right?

Jim said...

I am so angered by this that I can hardly think. This has nothing to do with parenting. It is criminal abuse of the weak and helpless. The fact that she has legal rights as a parent is incidental.

Any time you see abuse like this, whether it is in Anchorage or in Guantanamo, it can only happen because someone enjoys inflicting pain on the vulnerable.

Chasman said...

It's past time to rehabilitate Fagin, isn't it? He provided otherwise shiftless youth with valuable skills and a work ethic , at no cost to the tax payer no less! And when they were old enough to be recognized as the scum of the earth (cue some British newspaper from a week or two ago), the mouth-breathers could jerk themselves ecstatic watching the little buggers hang on pay-per-view.

O tempora! O mores!

Boris said...

Any time you see abuse like this, whether it is in Anchorage or in Guantanamo, it can only happen because someone enjoys inflicting pain on the vulnerable.

Agreed. This also seems to be the direction we're moving as a society.

Beijing York said...

This also seems to be the direction we're moving as a society.

Tragically, I have to agree with you Boris. Never thought I would see the day when such lack of compassion, decency and empathy would be considered anything less than criminal.

David Wilson said...

I presume you know of Joe Hall? & the continental drift? and their 'big hit' Vampire Beavers? ( )

Unknown said...

completely off-topic, but yes, I know of Joe Hall and the Continental Drift. Paul Quarrington, the bass player, is one of my all time favorite writers and musicians. He is sorely missed.