Editorial: Judge who beat teen should know better
Chicago Sun-Times, November 7, 2011

The beating of a Texas girl by her father — caught in a viral YouTube video that has been viewed close to a million times — didn’t happen, as one online apologist claimed, because the girl was “manipulative.”

It didn’t happen, as another writer sneered, because she was “a spoiled brat.”

It happened because parents in some quarters of America have yet to get the message that corporal punishment is not only potentially damaging but utterly ineffective.

Children who are regularly whipped or pummeled or even simply spanked by their parents do not suddenly become model citizens. They are, in fact, far more likely to do the same in turn — hit people.

As caught in a nearly eight-minute video taken by the daughter seven years ago, Texas Judge William Adams is seen repeatedly lashing his sobbing daughter, then 16, with a belt while angrily shouting at her. Her transgression: downloading media files she hadn’t paid for.

Her mother, who since has apologized, also appears in the video, shouting at the daughter to “turn over like a 16-year-old and take it! Like a grown woman!”

The daughter, now 23, said she set up the video camera in her bedroom, hiding its red recording light with a scarf, because she “knew something was going to happen.”

Local police launched an investigation on Wednesday, although the statute of limitations has expired on state charges. Federal prosecutors in Texas are looking into the matter as well.

Given the passage of time, those inquiries may come to nothing. But it’s disturbing that a judge who has adjudicated many family law cases doesn’t see a problem with a lashing so violent that it undoubtedly left many viewers gasping.

Judge Adams is unrepentant, saying, “In my mind I haven’t done anything wrong,” and, “It looks worse than it is.”

But the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against physical punishment, even spanking, saying that it increases aggression and anger, can grow to the point of harming a child and leads to regret on the part of parents. Research shows that children who are spanked are more likely as adults to be depressed, use alcohol, be angry, hit their own spouses and children and engage in crime.

Now there’s a message that needs to go viral.

WARNING! This video may be deeply disturbing to some viewers. Do not play it if children are within viewing or listening range.

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