A Florida man is in the bizarre news headlines this week, to no surprise — this time in a story pertaining to child discipline. Gawker reports that a father recently called police in Okeechobee County so a deputy could watch him spank his 12-year-old daughter. Apparently that’s perfectly legal in the same state known for Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, and Jeb Bush.
Noel Stephen with the local sheriff’s department addressed the bizarre situation, explaining the legality of it.
“It’s within statute for them to discipline their children, and spank them… You are entitled to paddle your child, whether you use you hands, you use a belt, you use a paddle. Within reason. As long as you’re paddlin’ the buttocks.”
WLWT 5 News reports that the incident began when the 12-year-old girl got into an altercation with her sister last Monday. It’s unclear if the altercation was a violent one or not, but the father apparently felt that the discipline needed to be physical in order to punish the 12-year-old. It’s also not clear as to why he called the local police to oversee the discipline, since it is perfectly legal to discipline your children in Florida by corporal means.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time the sheriff’s office in Okeechobee has been called for this very reason. Stephen also addressed this peculiarity, noting that it’s not something that officers drop what they’re doing to observe.
“It’s definitely not something we advertise to do, and even though law enforcement has been willing to help out in this situation, watching a parent discipline their child is something that’s done only when a deputy has no other calls to handle.”
Gawker notes that undersheriff Noel Stephen has personally observed about a dozen incidents that involved a parent paddling or disciplining their children. However, this particular case is probably the only one to ever go viral in the media. Meanwhile, some parents complain that their kids threaten to call the cops on them if they’re spanked or disciplined in a corporal manner. Maybe the Florida man in this latest case might inspire more parents to call for police assistance in regards to child discipline.
Do you think the law in Florida is a fair one, or is it nothing more than police supervised child abuse? There are groups of people who believe that even spanking is damaging to the development of children and adolescents, but if a police officer supervises the discipline, is it no longer abuse?
[Photo:CBC Radio/Undersheriff Noel Stephen]