By now, most parents are familiar with Anchorage resident Jessica Beagley, aka “hot sauce mom.”
The 36-year-old mother of six was found guilty Aug. 23 of misdemeanor child abuse after the “Dr. Phil” show aired a video of her punishing her 7-year-old adopted son for lying by putting hot sauce in his mouth and forcing him into a cold shower.
Outraged parents flooded the Anchorage Police Department with calls after the clip aired last October, and the case sparked heated discussions on parenting blogs and message boards.
Was this child abuse? Or an acceptable discipline tool blown out of proportion?
Most agreed with the former. In a poll of 3,000 “TODAY” moms, 69 percent considered “hot-saucing” abusive, while 31 percent said it did not constitute child abuse.
Personally, I’m not sure what else you CAN call it.
As an adult, you can be charged with assault if you hit another adult or menace them by forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. Assault is defined by law as any unwanted touch, and if you’re doing that to a defenseless child, it’s wrong and you should be arrested.
Conservative commentator Princella Smith thought hot sauce mom was simply being “creative” in her choice of discipline and called her arrest “a bit extreme.”
“I think, well, I know what my parents tried to teach us was that there are consequences to our actions,” she told Joy Behar on Behar's HLN talk show in February. “I wasn’t spanked every time I did something wrong, but I do believe that, you know, with every child there’s a different level of discipline.”
I’m sure a good number of us can remember a spanking or two from our childhoods. Maybe even worse.
But are those fond memories? Did such punishment make you respect your parents? Or resent and even fear them.
I tend to agree with "Supernanny" Jo Frost, who also appeared on Behar’s show and said things like cold showers and hot sauce do nothing but cause a “humongous” amount of damage to the parent/child relationship.
That kind of extreme discipline has also been shown to be ineffective.
Dr. Alanna Levine, pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said you want children to listen to you because they respect what you say, not because they fear you.
She suggested being consistent with small, repeatable consequences like taking away TV privileges or canceling a play date rather than enforcing harm on a child.
Looking for more tips? The University of Minnesota Extension has a ton of material on discipline and behavior on its website, as does the Minnesota Children’s Museum on its blog via Saint Paul ECFE parent educator Esther Shak.
What discipline measures do you think are appropriate for children, Maple Grove residents? It's your turn to weigh in.