Friday, September 20, 2002

The latest TV child abuse scandal is a videotape of an Indiana woman beating her 4-year-old daughter in the back seat of an SUV.

CNN story: "I've been in police work over 20 years, and I've never seen such a horrendous attack on a small child," said Samp.

WISHTV story: A doctor seeing this tape worries about the child "There is obvious blunt-head trauma. This child needs to be medically evaluated," said Dr. Arnold Del Pilar, Ironwood Medical Center.

WSBT story: "After viewing the tape his statement to me was that the child probably sustained head and neck injuries," said Mishawaka Police Detective Mike Samp Wednesday evening. "And also because of the violent shaking at one point with the hair, that it would not be totally out of the question to look at something as remote as a brain hemorrage."

I believe that this is yet another hysterical overreaction to a minor incident. I've seen the videotape on TV several times, and I think that it is unlikely that the child has any injuries at all. I doubt that the child even has a bruise. There is a point where it looks like the mom strikes the kid in the head, but it doesn't look to me as if much force is used. The shaking appears very mild. I feel sorry for this mom, as she is now the victim of a media frenzy.

Bob says: "The mother looks around to make sure no one is watching before she starts the beating. That proves that she knew that she was doing something wrong."

The mom does look over her right shoulder before the spanking. It is not clear why, but let's suppose you are right that she was checking to see if anyone was watching. I do not think that would be any evidence of guilt at all. Child discipline is normally done in private. If my kid misbehaved in a store, and it warranted some sort of punishment, I would usually not punish her in the store. I would wait until we were in private, so as not to create a scene in the store. It is not that I think that child discipline is wrong, but I do think that it can be rude to discipline a child in a public place.

Meanwhile, FoxNews reports that:

Toogood's sister, 31-year-old Margaret Daley, who authorities say was with her at the store, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of failure to report child abuse. Prosecutors later added a charge of assisting a criminal. Daley was released Friday after posting $2,150 bond.

According to Volokh, the Indiana statute provides that "an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect shall make a report as required by this article."

Something is seriously wrong with our society when a woman is arrested for failing to rat on her sister for spanking her kid. If I were on the jury, I would acquit both women based on what I have seen.

Update: Mrs. Toogood has turned herself in, and the girl is in good condition. The cops will probably convince her that she has to make a full confession if she ever wants to get her kid back.

BTW, the names of some of these characters sound fictitious. Mrs. Toogood spanked her kid. In another alleged child abuse story, the Killpacks of Utah are charged with killing their adopted 4-year-old by giving her too much water to drink.

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