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Domestic CP - April 2006

Corpun file 17570

Detroit News, Michigan, 13 April 2006

Mom, lawyer dispute abuse charge

Putnam woman's alleged use of belt, paddle on son called 'beating' by prosecutor, 'spanking' by defense.

By Valerie Olander
The Detroit News

A suspended Wayne Memorial High School special education teacher said a second-degree child abuse charge filed against her for paddling her 13-year-old adopted son, and the following media reports, have been unfair.

"It's all been blown way out of proportion," , 38, said Wednesday afternoon from the front door of her well-kept ranch home on Ceder Lake Road, west of the village of Pinckney. If convicted, she could face four years in prison.

Royal Oak attorney Paul J. Stablein said it's a case of a single mother spanking a misbehaving teen.

"Parents should be allowed to discipline their children. It's not up to government to province a home," he said.

Police and prosecutors called it a "beating."

"There was significant bruising," said Livingston Prosecutor David Morse.

The case has been bound over to Livingston County Circuit Court for arraignment on Friday. The boy and his twin sisters, 7, were removed from the home by Children Protective Services and are staying with a relative.

According to police reports, the teen was grounded and told to do yard chores while his mother went to the grocery store with his sisters on March 11. The girls are Cervelli's biological children.

The boy, who told police he was locked out of the home, used a screw driver in an attempt to get inside two different doors. When the mother returned and couldn't get into one of the damaged doors she used a black-rubber paddle on his bare buttocks. Then, when she discovered the second damaged door, she used a belt, again whacking him on his buttocks and legs.

In each instance, he was hit between two and 30 times, according to police reports and court testimony.

The defense attorney disputed that the boy was locked out of the house. He had access to a walk-out basement, which was furnished with a bathroom, couch, TV and the sisters' bedroom.

"Its ridiculous that the prosecutor charged her with what she was charged with. Second-degree child abuse involves serious injury, when a child is hit with a hard object and seriously injured or somehow burned or scarred. Spanking a child is not child abuse," Stablein said.

A Livingston County Sheriff's deputy came to the house March 12 after a report was made by the boy's 25-year-old sister, who lives in Lincoln Park. The teen had told her about his mother hitting him.

He was taken to McPherson Hospital for an exam and Children Protective Services from the Livingston County office were called. A forensic nurse from a domestic violence shelter spoke to the boy, as well.

Cervelli has been suspended with pay from her job as a special education teacher in the Wayne-Westland Schools since mid-March, when the district learned of the charges. Any felony involving children is handled in a similar manner, said Superintendent Gregory J. Baracy. He said the school is conducting its own investigation and when concluded will determine whether she can return to her job.

Michigan State University Law Professor Susan Bitensky, a member of Project No Spanking, has been pushing to revise state laws to align with international laws to protect children from any type of abuse. All states except Minnesota permit corporal punishment of children by parents.

Meanwhile, Texas Rep. Harold Dutton, chairman of the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues committee, introduced a bill to allow parents to discipline their children as they see fit. The bill received lots of publicity and debate, but has sat in committee since 2003.

blob Follow-up: 16 August 2006 - Woman acquitted of child abuse (jury finds mother not guilty of child abuse)

Corpun file 18650 (New Channel 4, Oklahoma City), 28 April 2006

Divine Discipline

Lance West Reporting

(Photo: FOR-TV-DT)

OKLAHOMA CITY -- There is a new tool being sold with the specific intent to punish children. The "Rod of Discipline" is marketed as a biblical teaching tool, but some call it a form of child abuse.

NewsChannel 4's Lance West talks to both sides about this so-called "Divine Discipline."

"Discipline," The word provokes a potpourri of definitions. Here are some comments from people on the street.

"My dad used the belt on me and I'll never forget it."
"I don't believe in hitting my child with anything."
"The willow switch. It didn't have to be used very often."
"I mainly got 'the look.'"
"Spare the rod. Spoil the child."

A national poll indicates two thirds of parents approve of spanking. Several internet companies say there is a faith-based way to discipline children and train them as Christians. It's called the "Rod of Discipline." It's a flexible spanking tool available for about $5.

"I see love and discipline as the two essential ingredients in child rearing," says Waterloo Baptist Church Pastor, Tim Richardson. Pastor Richardson advocates corporal punishment, based on bible scriptures like proverbs 13:24. "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who is careful to discipline loves him."

Pastor Richardson emphasizes "careful discipline;" in love not anger. "I say often to the men in my church that hands are not meant to hit a wife and child. God gave us these to love our wives and hug our children," Richardson explains.

A magazine advertisement for the "Rod of Discipline" reads: Hands are for loving, belts are for holding up pants and the rod is for correction.

When shown the "Rod of Discipline" to people on the street, they had the following comments"

"No, I would never use this. It's cruel and unusual punishment."
"It burns. It brings back bad memories."
"I wouldn't spend $5 on it."

Those sentiments are shared by hundreds of others who signed a petition to ban the "Rod". A Eufaula, Oklahoma company voluntarily removed its flexible nylon rod off the market. There are plenty more available on the World Wide Web. It's outrageous to child advocacy groups.

"Objects should never be used as a form of discipline on a child," says Dr. Thomas Lock a Pediatric Development and Behavior Specialist. "Because it is ineffective and there is a risk of injury."

Is it potential child abuse or is it an effective teaching tool? Corporal punishment remains legal in all 50 states. Oklahoma law allows parents to use "ordinary force" as a means of discipline, including spanking, switching or paddling.

Copyright 2006 KFOR-TV-DT. All rights reserved.

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