Viral videos showing corporal punishment spark parenting debate

Social media is turning secret abuse into public affair


Demitria Powell  who slapped, yelled and repeatedly hit her son with a belt remains in jail Wednesday in Flint, Michigan, after she posted a video of the beating on her son's Facebook page Thursday.

Child abuse -- once done secretly behind doors -- is making it to social media, and in some cases police are taking notice.

Viral videos showing parents resorting to corporal punishment are also sparking a  debate among parents: To spank or not to spank? And when does disciplinary action turn into damaging humiliation and abuse?


Sick mother beating up baby (1,877,726 views):  The 2012 video prompted several  petitions that reached Malaysian police and resulted in the woman's arrest.

Anthony Sanchez child abuse (620,174 views): Sanchez, a former official in California, is serving three years of probation after a neighbor shot a video that showed him beating his step son while teaching him how to catch a baseball.

Mom yells at daughter on bus (420,421 views): The video was posted in 2009 and was allegedly shot in San Francisco. The woman was never identified.

Mom beats her son (334,410 views):   Eladio Chavez was in dispute with Cheridan Marie Mack over the custody of their daughter Rene. The video posted in 2012 prompted several petitions directed to Judge Debra Harris in their case.


About a month ago, a mother recorded her husband beating their 13-year-old daughter with a belt, after she allegedly went missing for three days. While the  girl's Facebook, the parents alleged, showed that she had been spending time with several teenage boys. 

World Star Hip Hop posted the video March 15. The comments on the site were mostly of support:

"That should NOT be done in the streets," a user posted. That  "should be done in the privacy of their home."

"Whop her ass!" posted one user. And only one posted, "That's abuse."


Police officer in Flint, Michigan did not engage in a debate when they saw a video of Demitria Powell, 28. The mother, police said, abused her 11-year-old son and posted the six-minute video on his Facebook Thursday to shame him.

While another of Powell's sons watched, she slapped the teen and allowed family friend Uteas Taylor, 42, to hit him about 60 times with a belt. She also allowed convicted criminal Stefan Felton, 40, who is Taylor's boyfriend, to film the beating.

Powell – who has photos of guns, drugs and cash on her Facebook and was on probation -- said her son was being punished for pretending to be a gang member and for having bad grades in school. Authorities said the teen suffered minor injuries.

Guess who is being shamed on social media now: Police posted the three mugs after they were arrested Sunday on their Facebook account. The three were facing three felony child abuse counts.


Some videos cause more outrage than others. Most victims of abuse are usually ashamed to reveal their identity, but there have been notable exceptions. 

On Oct. 27, 2011, Hillary Adams  took to YouTube and Reddit to share evidence she recorded in 2004 that her dad -- Aransas County Court-at-Law judge William Adams was unfit for the bench.

For months, there was worldwide outrage on social media. The family court judge was suspended for a year. The Texas Supreme Court lifted the suspension in 2012, but a year later County commissioners cut his pay by about 1.6 percent. 

Adams, 25, who secretly recorded the 8-minute video when she was 16,  was victorious in shaming her dad again March 4th. The video -- which has 7.6 million views -- cost him a judicial election in Aransas County, Texas.

"Please ignore anything nice I ever said about him," she posted recently.  "He tortured me and my mother for decades on end."


Organizations devoted to eliminating the use of the belt for discipline are proliferating on the web. Child development and psychological communities have presented evidence of its long-term damaging effects and some experts have argued the act should be considered a human rights violation.

"The use of corporal punishment is strongly rooted in our society and is passed on through generations ... this doesn't mean that corporal punishment is justified," a Unicef campaign states. 

Studies show corporal punishment is for the most part socially acceptable. About 65 percent of adults in the U.S. approve of physical punishment and about 50 percent of families use it to discipline their children. Florida is one of 19 states that have laws permitting corporal punishment in schools.

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