Welcome to another week.

A mother in Louisiana has had her three sons removed from her care after she was arrested on suspicion of whipping them with an electrical cord and belt, for burglarising a neighbour’s house. The mother’s assault left the boys, aged 13, 12 and 10, with cuts and bruises.

Following her arrest, the mother said, “”It’s been hell. 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.”

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore who is overseeing the case, has promised to review all the materials available before making a decision on whether to bring criminal charges against the mother. He is also noted to have said: “Surely you would expect a parent to discipline a child who is burglarising other people’s homes as this could be a deadly encounter for the child.”

Laws relating to corporal punishment in America vary from state to state, but are broadly similar to the UK’s own policy which allows for parents to hit their children, as long as the assault is considered to be ‘reasonable’ and does not leave a physical mark on, or break the skin.

A growing body of research is emerging which reinforces the view that children do not just suffer physically as a result of being hit by a parent, but emotionally too and that the damage can last well into adulthood.

However, parents in both the US and the UK continue to assault their children, with 6 out of 10 parents of children aged up to 4 in the UK saying they hit their children and 4 out of 5 Americans believing that hitting children is sometimes appropriate.

Adults hitting other adults in both America and the UK, however, is not tolerated. Even if an attack does not leave a mark, the perpetrator of that attack in the UK can still be charged with common assault, a crime which carries with it a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.

Our question then, is just this: what do you think justifies the distinction between the legalisation of assault on children, and the criminalisation of assault for adults?

Questions

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