Discipline or Abuse: Viral Videos of Spankings Expose a Once Private Matter
1 year ago
Are these videos saving children or encouraging parents?
Adults whipping children used to be considered a private matter. But technology has opened the world’s eyes and forced a discussion about the line between discipline and abuse.
A discussion we desperately need to have.
Two recent cases of videotaped beatings have brought corporal punishment into the public sphere in a dramatic way, interspersed with the dynamics of race, gender, class, age and privilege.
In September, Devery Broox, 25, posted a video on WorldStarHipHop.com of himself whipping a seven-year-old boy he mentored. Broox’s justification for whipping and verbally abusing the boy, humiliating him with a bad haircut and subjecting him to a punishing workout, is that he was trying to keep him from prison. He said the boy’s grandmother had called him to punish the boy for acting up at school.
Broox posted the video online with scrolling statistics about the number of black men in prison, and titles for each step of the process of disciplining a child: Interrogation, Removal of SWAG, Beat Dat ASS!!!, and at the end: Job Well Done.
A viewer alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the local police department identified Broox and the boy from the video, and Broox was booked into jail and charged with one count of felony child abuse. He has since posted bond.
The comment threads on various sites where the video was posted overwhelmingly supported Broox, saying black kids need to be whipped to keep them out of the penal system. Some viewers even accused the police and social services as being racist for arresting Broox. These kinds of reactions support the contention that African Americans are more likely to not just embrace corporal punishment, but view it as essential to rearing children responsibly. Since this videotaped beating of a young black boy did not provoke an outcry among black Americans, should we be surprised that it did not garner national media attention and public outcry?
Contrast Broox’s case with that of William Adams, a family law judge in Texas whose disabled daughter secretly videotaped him savagely beating and verbally berating her when she was 16. The daughter, Hillary Adams, now 23, recently posted the video on YouTube, where it got more than 2 million hits and prompted a police investigation.
In contrast to the comments for Broox’s video, many of the comments on the Adams family beating harshly criticized the father for going way too far.