“They made me do it. They said, ‘You need to beat this boy.’”
Tacoma, WA – Two cops with a fondness for corporal punishment are under criminal investigation for possible child abuse, after telling a woman to beat her 9-year-old grandson with a belt.
As The News Tribune reports, the officers not only urged her to do it — contradicting the advice of Catholic Community Service workers who were present — but showed her how. They suggested she could use a small extension of her hand, since she was physically limited, and said it was her legal right to beat the boy.
Even more astonishingly, the boy was bleeding from broken glass after a panicked rage episode, and had a diminished mental capacity – which the officers knew about from a previous encounter. The boy had been committed to a hospital in April, and then in May was choked and abused by a babysitter.
On June 5, the boy had a breakdown when his grandmother went to get prescriptions following a back surgery and asked two therapists to watch him for the brief period. When she returned, he had broken all the glass he could find and locked himself in the house.
The grandmother was able to enter the home, calm down the boy and take away the knives he was holding. But it was too late, as one of the therapists had already called police. The cops showed up, forcing the woman to beat her 9-year-old mentally ill grandson.
From the New Tribune video interview:
“He came to me as a broken child…completely disabled. And I promised my boy that I would never hurt him or hit him.
I told the policeman that I promised my boy that I would never hurt him. They told me I had to. They weren’t going to call an ambulance or anything, and my boy was bleeding and he was completely out of control and he was completely terrified.
And I screamed at my therapist, ‘I can’t hold his wrists and kiss him, but I can beat him with a belt?!’
And I looked at [the therapist], and the police officer said, ‘Don’t look at him. He’s nothing. He means nothing to us. We’re the ones with the guns, with the power. We’re the ones who you need to listen to.’”
One cop grabbed the belt and slapped it loudly on the table. The cops threatened that they’d have the boy taken away by Child Protective Services if the woman did not beat her grandson. The volunteer social workers, whom the cops disparaged in their report, were frozen in disbelief as they looked on.
“And I did it,” she said. “I hit him with the belt. Of course my boy fought with me, because why wouldn’t he? I will never forgive myself. They told me to wait until he was sleeping and beat him in his sleep. They told me to hit him for every window that was broken. It was absolutely the worst day of my life.”
As a result of this ‘discipline,’ the boy became furious and violent toward his grandmother, even threatening to kill her. The cops then decided to involuntarily commit the boy to a children’s hospital, where workers saw the red marks on the boy’s arms and back.
“They told me they would bring me up on child abuse charges,” she said. “I’ve never hurt a child in my life, ever. I told the social workers what (the police) made me do.”
The first police report from June 5 made no mention of the belt beating, but a second report filed at a detective’s request describes the incident from the cops’ self-righteous perspective. The officer states in the report that he “gives out hundreds” of copies of the law on physical discipline to parents, in an apparent crusade for corporal punishment.
“The law, RCW 9A.16.100, refers to use of force on children. It states that physical discipline is permissible, if it is “reasonable and moderate and is authorized in advance by the child’s parent or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child.”
The law goes on to list a series of unauthorized actions, such as striking a child with a closed fist. It closes by saying the list is “not intended to be exclusive.” It doesn’t mention belts.”
Even when a child is sitting amidst piles of broken glass, bleeding and holding knives after a mental breakdown, these cops felt compelled to tell this grandmother to beat the boy with the belt from his Sunday suit.
“I will never call the police again,” the woman said. “They tried to convince me that this wasn’t violence. I said, ‘That wasn’t violence? Then what was it?’ They said, ‘It’s just discipline.’ These guys were really prehistoric.”
The two officers are on administrative leave while the criminal investigation begins. Cops have no business telling parents to carry out corporal punishment, which science overwhelmingly tells us doesn’t work – and, in fact, contributes to increased aggression and antisocial behavior.
This disturbing case is another insight into the mentality of violence that infests too many of those sworn to protect and serve.