Louisiana mother arrested for whipping kids after sons break into neighbour’s home

An East Baton Rouge, La., mother arrested for beating her sons with an electrical wire, after they were accused of  burglarizing a neighbour’s home, has been released from jail on bond. But the case is now whipping up debate on when discipline becomes abuse.

Schaquana Spears, a 30-year-old mother of six, was arrested Tuesday after East Baton Rouge police say they found the boys, aged 13, 12 and 10, with cuts and bruises across their bodies.

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    Spears, who could face charges of child cruelty, said the strict punishment was done to prevent her kids from committing future crimes.

    “I live for my kids. I can’t just sit back and do nothing,” Spears told WBRZ. “In this day and age, I see so many babies getting killed, and I refuse to look at my babies in a coffin.”

    “Maybe I should have did nothing,” Spears added. “I still would have been wrong. I would have been unfit. Then they would have been saying you should have disciplined them.”

    Spears’ children are in the custody of family members.

    Neighbour’s home burglarized

    Spears’ sons are accused of breaking into a neighbour’s house and stealing several items.

    When the neighbour told Spears that her son had broken into her home, she immediately ordered the items be returned.

    “She made them give it back,” the neighbour said. “[Spears] thanked me for calling and letting her know what was going on and said she would take care of it.”

    Beating leaves bruises, cuts

    Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) officials said Spears’ oldest son told them that Spears hit him with a television cord multiple times, leaving cuts and marks across his arms, legs, shoulders, stomach, and back.

    “Based on what I see, the question is, whether or not what was inflicted on these kids is unjustifiable pain or suffering,” East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said.

    WATCH: Parents conflicted on Louisiana mother’s discipline of sons who robbed neighbour’s home

    Activists with the Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana (PCAL) have argued that the information gathered is a clear case of child abuse.

    “Louisiana law defines abuse as injury and things that endanger the physical, emotional, and mental health of a child,” said Amanda Brunson, executive director of PCAL.

    Samaritan posts bond for mother

    But others disagree that the punishment was abuse, including Winter Applewhite, a woman who posted US$1,000 bond on Wednesday to free Spears from jail.

    “I think she was an awesome mom. I think what she did what was right,” said Applewhite. “If I could reunite this woman with her kids, at whatever cost, I was willing to do that.”

    Applewhite identified with the fears Spears felt about her sons becoming criminals.

    “Had it been my boys, I would have whipped them as well and whipped them again when I got out,” she said.

    Parents, politicians defend mother’s discipline

    Even the neighbour, who had her home broken into, agreed with the punishment Spears gave her sons.

    “If it was me I’m gonna beat you before I let the cops kill you,” she said in an interview with The Advocate.

    Moore also suggested the punishment “may have saved these kids’ lives” by teaching them a valuable life lesson.

    “We need parents that are involved with their kids’ lives and we need parents that are going to be a parent and not a friend,” said Moore.

    Louisiana State treasurer John Kennedy also defended Spears in a letter to DCFS, saying it would be “ludicrous” to take Spears’ children from her.

    “It’s one thing to remove children from an abusive situation,” read the letter. “It’s quite another thing to remove children who were disciplined for breaking the law.”

    The outpouring of support has been overwhelming for Spears.

    “That’s what’s getting me through. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. That you understand and you can relate and feel where I am coming from,” said Spears. “I know any mother in their right mind would chastise their child for doing wrong.”

    PCAL calls the support for Spears irresponsible.

    “Her response is heart-breaking,” said Brunson. “We never want to see kids experience that kind of hurt.”

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