Wednesday, September 25, 2002

This woman in Indiana who got caught on security camera hitting her child? I think I'm more sympathetic to her case than anyone I've read or heard so far...

I'll start with a modified Sam Kinison line: I don't condone child abuse. I understand it...

Okay, if you think that's Not Funny you might as well skip the rest of this. To start with, the girl was not injured. Period. No bruises. No blood. No concussion, Some white bread young doctor watching a video in front of TV news cameras saying "Oh my God, we need to get that little girl to an emergency room," is not sufficient cause to demonize a mother of three.

Okay, so I'm a troglodyte who doesn't believe that Spanking Equals Abuse. I also don't think that video shows very much of what I've heard described. "She was grabbed by her hair and punched in the face more than 12 times" is not supported by the view I've seen of the mother leaning into the back of the vehicle, her white trash blond ponytail bouncing up and down as she lays down the law to her kid. She was clearly angry, but to say she was Out Of Control overstates the case.

Part of getting a kid's attention sometimes involves exaggerating parental response. The Child Rearing Specialists nowadays say that you shouldn't even Yell at your kids, much less Strike them. Mrs. Toogood is even parroting the party line (on the advice of her attorney, I have no doubt). "Nobody has a right to strike their child. I shouldn't have did it." Hard to disagree with the second statement, in retrospect (we even get to feel smugly superior to her uneducated way with the English language), but does she really believe the first? Do you? I don't.

Most of us were raised with the concept that parents did indeed have that right and it would be exercised if behavior strayed excessively from accepted norms. We're not talking about wife beaters here, okay? We're talking about normal American families. I've seen loud angry parents manhandling children in stores before. It's not pretty, but I know why it happens. Changing a whiny defiant kid into a scared crying kid isn't necessarily a big improvement, but maybe it's just a step in an ongoing educational process. Any honest parent will admit that they've had moments that they're glad were not captured on videotape. There's no potential "Caught On Tape: Woman Assaults Child - Police Searching For Mother" moment in your past? Are you sure? How about your Mother's?

"A doctor who viewed the tape said the girl needs treatment." Hmmm, now that they've examined her, what kind of "treatment" have they prescribed? Separation from her family, that's what. Well, at least it makes the TV news audience feel better.

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