Judge Lays Smack Down on Parent who Smacked Child

A father who gave his 2-year-old son 24 “swats” to the child’s backside using a wooden back-scratcher because the child refused to address the father with a “yes, sir” was found by a North Dakota Supreme Court judge to have committed child abuse under state law.

The father apparently took the boy outside while they were attending religious services and struck the child’s bottom twice. At first, this strategy seemed to work. However, after returning to their home from the service, the boy continued to refuse to address his father with “yes, sir.” This is when the father took him to a bedroom, placed the child on his knee, and smacked his bottom three times. When the boy began crying, the father consoled him and explained the importance of addressing his parents respectfully.

In this case, the father swatted his child 3 times while the child was wearing pants and a diaper. Immediately afterwards, the father consoled and hugged the child while trying to explain the importance of showing respect for his parents. When the child continued to refuse to say “yes, sir” the cycle of swats and consolation was repeated. At the end of the ordeal, the child had received no less than 24 smacks on the bottom.

Two days later, a social service worker found two purple bruises on the child’s bottom.

Under N.D.C.C. Section 12.1-05-05(1), reasonable force can be used to discipline a child as long as that force does “not create a substantial risk of death, serious bodily injury, disfigurement, or gross degradation.”… <Read More>

“Fitting In” Means Plastic Surgery?

7-year-old Samantha Shaw of South Dakota underwent a plastic surgery procedure to avoid being bullied at school. The procedure (otoplasty) pinned back the girl’s ears so they wouldn’t be so prominent. Her mother supported the procedure because she didn’t want her child to suffer at the hands of other schoolchildren as a result of her appearance.

Giving a 7-year-old plastic surgery sounds like a bad idea, doesn’t it? But like any good story, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that children can be extremely cruel to their peers sometimes. We’ve all probably been at the receiving end of bullying at some point in our childhood, right? While we’re still young, being a victim of bullying can feel like the worst thing in the world. When we get older, however, we realize (hopefully) that it’s just another common experience that we can all learn from.

But what message does a parent send to her child (and other parents) when she opts to permanently change the child’s appearance because of bullying? That when the going gets tough, the tough get plastic surgery to conform with the rest of society?

And yet, when a bullied child resists his abuse–we are quick to scold his response just as sharply.

It seems the best method would be to teach children the middle route when it comes to dealing with bullies: don’t respond to violence with violence, but don’t take the bully’s message to the heart.

Perhaps the best approach would be for the rest of us to set the example for children.… <Read More>

Will You Facebook Me?

Michigan police have arrested a man for violating the state’s polygamy laws when his first wife found incriminating photos of him with his second wife on Facebook.

Richard Leon Barton, Jr. married his first wife Adina Quarto in 2004, a year after they had met online. Shortly thereafter, however, the couple discussed getting a divorce but never followed through with the paperwork. One day, Mr. Barton suddenly moved out of their home and disappeared from her life. The two remained friends on Facebook, until Mr. Barton finally “unfriended” her. By viewing the parts of his profile (and his friends’ profiles) that were still open to the public, however, Mr. Quarto discovered that he had actually gotten married to another woman. Police arrested the alleged bigamist.

Moral of the story: be careful what information you (and your friends) put on Facebook!

All kidding aside, do you really think his conviction should stand? Mr. Barton and his first wife had already agreed to divorce before he separated from her–the only thing left to do was the actual paperwork. The couple didn’t even live together under the same roof anymore, and even after he left their home the two talked over the phone and via the Internet about finalizing their divorce papers. Mr. Barton claims that he believed he had signed some divorce papers a few years earlier when he was incarcerated for an unrelated charge, but doesn’t remember the exact details.

What harm has Mr. Barton really done? Violate the black letter of the law, you say?… <Read More>

If You’re Thinking of Being my Mother it Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White

Professor Gina Samuels, PhD, of the University of Chicago, contends that white foster parents of minority children who claim that their goal is to build a ‘colorblind’ family may not necessarily taking the best approach to adoption. In her interpretive study “Being Raised by White People: Navigating Racial Difference Among Adopted Multicultural Adults,” published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Family and Marriage, Dr. Samuels argues that raising foster children in a “colorblind” way might actually be harmful to them because it creates “discordance” between the child and the parent.

Dr. Samuels, who is part black and has a white adoptive mother, interviewed 25 transracially adopted multiracials on their experiences “growing up with white people.” Her report finds that these children are left unprepared when they discover the importance of race and racial identity in the world outside their local community. She writes: “Taken together, participants’ dual status as multiracial and transracially adopted seemed to mutually reinforce a sense of one’s self as highly racialized andincessantly unique—‘’to always feel different.’'”

Race has been considered as a factor in the upbringing of children before. In the 1984 case of Palmore v. Sidoti, a Florida trial court deprived a divorced white mother of custody of her young daughter after the mother invited her black boyfriend to live with her, on the grounds that the mother’s lifestyle of having a sexual relationship with a man that she wasn’t married to would subject the child to peer pressure and social stigmatization.… <Read More>

This is Your Face. This is Your Face on Drugs.

A sheriff in Multnomah County, Oregon, is using before-and-after mugshots of young drug abusers in the prison system to scare children (and anyone) from using illegal drugs. Deputy Bret King compiled the contrasting mugshots from various substance abusers into a 48-minute documentary titled “From Drugs to Mugs” as a way to chronicle the shocking ways a young face can transform  as a result of using crystal meth, cocaine, and other harmful substances. The results are frightening, to say the least.

The goal is to appeal to young people’s “sense of vanity.”

Deputy King’s film echoes the same themes in the 1978 documentary “Scared Straight,” where baby-faced juvenile delinquents were forced to endure 3-hour sessions with real life death row inmates in prison.

Are these scare tactics effective or do they cross the line? Reports suggest mixed results. No doubt (most) parents try their very best to keep their kids on the straight path. But when families and households are broken, and children are surrounded by overwhelmingly negative influences instead of love and affection, should the state step into the role of a “nanny” and scare our kids from going astray?

One could argue Deputy King’s video is no different than the public service announcements we saw on TV back in the day–just not as innocent! But times have changed, haven’t they? Kids are facing greater dangers, and drastic times call for drastic measures.

What’s the best strategy to knocking some sense into our young people so they don’t end up in prison?… <Read More>