The recent video that has been circulating on the Internet of Texas Judge William Adams beating his 16-year-old daughter with a leather belt has done more than spark outrage and disgust from members of the online community. It has now sparked a debate on parenting skills and the appropriateness of corporal punishment.
The video runs for about seven minutes and shows then-16-year-old Hillary Adams, who suffers from cerebral palsy, being repeatedly whipped by her father on her legs and back with a belt while he shouts and swears at her to turn over on her bed so he can whip her from behind. At one point her mother joins in, yelling, "You turn over like a 16-year-old and take it!"
"Are you happy?" Adams asks in the video. "Is it fun to disobey your parents? What happened to you Hillary? Once you were an obedient, nice little girl. Now you lie, cheat and steal."
"There is no excuse for this man's actions," wrote one viewer. "The sight of a man whipping his daughter at full strength with a belt is almost beyond words. He should be put in jail. Any charge will do."
The organization Prevent Child Abuse America was equally disturbed with the video, and told The Christian Post that it does not advocate corporal punishment.
"There is no evidence that supports any positive long term effects from utilizing corporal punishment as discipline, and because of this we strongly encourage all caretakers to consider alternative solutions such as giving time-outs, explaining rules, or taking away privileges, which have been shown to be more effective," said James M. Hmurovich, president & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America.
While many viewers have expressed sympathy for Hillary and outrage at Judge Adams and his wife, some have said they do not see anything wrong with the beating and that our society has become too fearful of harshly disciplining children.
"As a mother of hard headed, stubborn rebellious teenagers, I can certainly empathize with the parents," said one viewer. "Discipline is necessary and the lack of discipline is a result of the issues we have with teens today. There is nothing wrong with spanking. What this judge did is nothing that my mother didn't do to me and I've turned out just fine. No parent should have to be fearful of disciplining their children. After time and time of smart mouthed kids, continued bad behavior, it is a parent's duty to do what they can to correct them."
However, the video is not the only form of media fueling the debate about corporal punishment.
A book published in 1994 by evangelical pastor Michael Pearl and his wife entitled To Train Up a Child, which instructs parents on how to inflict corporal punishment on young children, has come to the forefront in recent years after three separate cases of children being killed at the hands of their parents, all of whom allegedly read and followed the book's instructions.
An article in The New York Times detailed the most recent case in May of this year involving Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., who had six children in 2008 when they decided to adopt an 11-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy from Ethiopia.
Last May, the adopted girl "was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined," The New York Times wrote. Her mother had raved about Pearl's book and recommended it to a friend. In addition, the girl had been beaten with a 15-inch plastic tube that was recommended by Pearl in the book.
An overwhelming number of reviewers of the book on Amazon.com have been shocked by what the book proposes.
"I understand a swift pop on the hand or leg, but there is a line between discipline and abuse," wrote one reviewer. "They recommend to a mom, who has a 7 month old, to 'switch' him on the bare bottom or leg 7 to 8 times for getting angry. Then if he is still angry to do it again until he gives in to the pain...CHRISTIAN READERS BEWARE OF THIS BOOK! EVERYONE IN GENERAL, JUST SKIP IT! IT'S NOT WORTH THE TIME OR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS IT WILL CAUSE TO YOU!"