Childrearing

Louisiana Mother Arrested for Punishing Her Sons After She Caught Them Breaking and Entering

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police car lightsWhen and if and how much it is OK to hit a child is a matter of intense debate, and there may never be an end to it. But this week a Louisiana mother was actually arrested for whipping her sons after she caught them burglarizing a neighbor’s home.

According to ABC News, Schaquana Spears was arrested on Monday for whipping her 13-year-old, 12-year-old, and 10-year-old sons. She reportedly hit the oldest and youngest with an RCA cord, while the 12-year-old told police he was hit with a belt. The older two reportedly had lacerations that broke the skin, and the youngest had a small scratch on his hand.

Spears said she was just trying to discipline her kids and teach them right from wrong.

“It’s been hell,” she said. “I never could imagine that trying to be a good mother would end me up in jail with a criminal record like I’m a predator out to hurt my kids who I live for.”

She might have been trying to protect her children, but she did allegedly whip the 13-year-old so hard with an RCA cord that it broke the skin. That’s a hell of a lot more than a spanking. Even most proponents of physical punishment would draw the line at leaving open wounds on a child. But as horrible as that punishment sounds, it’s hard not to imagine the terror Spears must have felt when she found out what they were doing. Breaking and entering could easily have gotten her kids killed. They could have been shot by the neighbor, or by the police. Anything could have happened.

District Attorney Hillard Moore is still reviewing the case to see if criminal charges will be pressed against Spears, but he definitely sounds inclined to be on her side in an interview with ABC News.

“Parents have the right and obligation to discipline and teach their children,” Moore said to ABC News. “We often time see children who have no parental authority or discipline which eventually results in delinquency and criminal acts. We need more parents who discipline their children. Surely you would expect a parent to discipline a child who is burglarizing other people’s homes as this could be a deadly encounter for the child.”

The neighbor whose house was allegedly burglarized by Spears’ kids says she feels terrible for Spears, who she thinks did the right thing. Everyone involved in the story seemed to be thinking, “Oh my God, her kids could have been killed!”

They really could have been, and that’s terrifying. But if you hit a grown man with an RCA cord it would be assault. The fact that these are children makes that worse, not better. It shouldn’t be legal to beat a person just because they’re under 18.

It’s hard not to sympathize with the fear Spears must have felt when she found out what her kids were up to, but fear doesn’t justify assault. Her position is a tough one, though, because what even is an appropriate degree of punishment for something like burglarizing a home? Or driving drunk?