Child discipline remains a serious point of contention these days. Even with scads of information revealing that using corporal punishment as a means of discipline is ineffective, even counterproductive, people still hold firm to the notion that a parent's decision to use physical punishment to discipline their children is just that — a parent's decision, and no one else's. Particularly when the kid's offense is an especially severe one.
Still, other people take that information and run in the opposite direction with it, saying it's never OK to hit kids, ever, no matter their behavior. It's possible this is why the debate surrounding a Louisiana mother's decision to whip her kids when they broke into another person's house has people butting heads over what constitutes appropriate discipline.
The mother, Schaquana Spears, recently found herself in the middle of all the controversy when she whipped her children with an electrical cord and a belt after she learned that the three of them — 10-, 12- and 13-year old boys — had burglarized a neighbor's home. Ultimately she found herself in jail after police investigated the incident and found lacerations on two of the boys.
Spears is devastated and confused. To her mind, she told a local news outlet, the behavior her boys were engaging in could have ultimately resulted in their deaths if someone in the home had had a gun. We could reasonably assume that she'd hoped a severe punishment would put them off of future misadventures. After all, what's worse? A bruised kid, or a dead one?
On the other hand, there's a line when it comes to what people consider appropriate corporal punishment, and in the eyes of the law — and plenty of armchair law enforcement officers and parenting experts on the internet — Spears crossed it.
If everything were that black-and-white, it would be great. But the uproar and reaction to Spears' chosen method of discipline — whipping — only serves to illustrate every single shade of gray in the arguments for and against corporal punishment, as evidenced by the scale of reactions. For instance, more than one person thought Spears was unequivocally in the right.
While others judged her much more harshly, seemingly put off the most by the method and results of the discipline she used.
Still others were ambivalent, agreeing that the kids needed to be punished but unsure if Spears crossed the line with the way she went about punishing her sons.
It's hard to know how to react in situations like this, particularly when the narrative that says that a single misstep in motherhood dooms a woman eternally to the label of "bad mom" exists and persists no matter what we do. That definitely wasn't lost on people either, who expressed an almost tired sort of frustration with the debate itself:
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