A video posted to Facebook of an 11-year-old child suffering a beating has led to three arrests in Flint, Michigan. The Facebook video is six minutes long. The child is repeatedly smacked in the face and whipped with a belt. MLive reported that police allege the Facebook video showed a boy being slapped by his mother, then being asked about his grades and behavior on social media. Then, the mother's godmother hit the boy with a belt over 50 times while, oddly, another adult filmed the entire beating. As the three adults gang up to punish the 11-year old boy, they allegedly warn him not to get involved in gang activity. Flint is a notoriously dangerous city with significant gang activity.
The depiction of the beating was shared more than 1,600 times on Facebook before being deleted from the child's page by Sunday. MLive reported that the video of the beating had been posted to the boy's Facebook page twice. It was unclear if Facebook removed the video or if it was taken down deliberately. "One of the things we needed to do was have the ability to retain that video," Police Chief Tolbert said, "We didn't want to take it down if we needed it as evidence." The police were able to acquire a copy of the video.
In an email to MINBC News, a police spokeswoman said that the authorities discovered the viral Facebook video on Friday. By Sunday, police arrested the three people pertaining to the Facebook beating. The Genesee County prosecutor's office announced the names of the defendants on Tuesday. Demitria Powell, the 11-year-old boy's mother, along with Uteas Taylor, 42, and Stefon Felton, 39, all face felony child abuse charges.
The defendants were arraigned on Tuesday morning before Flint District Judge Nathaniel C. Perry III. "The law says that you can administer reasonable physical force upon a child for disciplinary purposes. I think this was unreasonable," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said of the child's beating.
"The adults in this case clearly went beyond what is a reasonable level of 'parental discipline,'" Leyton explained, according to My Fox Detroit. "What the video in this case reveals is a group of adults whose actions were a criminal assault against a child and that behavior cannot be condoned nor allowed under the law." The prosecutor admitted he was disturbed after watching the Facebook depiction of the beating.
ClickOnDetroit reported that the prosecutor charged all three adults present with third-degree child abuse. Third-degree child abuse is a Class G felony with a maximum prison term of two years. Each of the defendants is also charged with "Conspiracy to Commit Child Abuse-3rd Degree" and "Child Abuse-3rd Degree Committed in the Presence of Another Child," WNEM News reported.
Last month, a father beat his 13-year-old daughter in the street as a punishment while her mother videotaped. In that case, the beating was also being used as a form of discipline. That video sparked significant commentary about the use of corporal punishment and what degree is acceptable. Demitria Powell is getting many supportive comments posted to her Facebook wall. What do you think? Was the extensive beating the child endured in the Facebook video a legitimate form of punishment?