A 46-year-old unemployed Gold Coast mum (who can’t be named due to legal reasons) has lost custody of her children and convicted of assault after smacking her son with a spoon upon discovering her 10-year-old son used her credit card to spend a huge $600 on video games.
The single mum pleaded guilty to the assault on her special needs son in the Southport Magistrates Court.
At some point, every parent snaps
No doubt many of us have been in this exact sitaution at some point. Pushed to the limit by bad choices and worse behaviour. It takes every inch of our being to just walk away before we do or say something we might later regret. This Aussie mum was experiencing just that, struck her child with a plastic spoon and has now paid the ultimate price.
Having faced the court, it was reported that the prosecution said she confiscated the gaming console before grabbing her son and hitting him on the backside with a plastic spoon she had grabbed from the kitchen. The attack caused bruising to his body, the court was told.
Her son who has ADHD and autism spectrum disorder then kicked several holes in the wall of their home.
Child safety authorities were alerted to the incident and the Gold Coast mum did indeed admit to hitting her child in an interview with the police.
The mum’s defence lawyer described the incident as a “brain snap with a difficult child” and that she was “extremely remorseful”.
And gosh, haven’t we all been there? Pushed to the brink of repair and anger, wanting to scream with every fibre of your being?
Society over sympathy, court rules supervised visits
Both of her children were removed from her care, her lawyer said. She’s allowed to visit her children twice a week under supervision. The court magistrate Mark Bamberry sympathised with the mother’s unfortunate situation in handing down the non-custodial sentence.
“I accept this is completely out of character,” he said.
“I can understand why she’s done what she’s done … I can only imagine how difficult this is as a single mother with two children to make ends meet.”
But he said “society has moved on” from physically punishing children.
With her two children removed from her care, this mum has been handed a nine-month probation order and avoided having her conviction recorded.
What does Australian law say about smacking children?
Smacking is seen as a physical or corporal punishment, so under Australian law, it appears to land in a grey area of murky waters. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies the physical punishment legislation reads:
Physical (or corporal) punishment is the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain or discomfort to correct or punish a child’s behaviour.
Physical punishment commonly involves smacking, spanking, slapping or hitting (with a hard object such as a belt, stick or cane). It can also include activities such as forcing a child to kneel, sit or stand in uncomfortable positions or on painful objects for a length of time.
The acceptability, consequences, and legality of using physical punishment toward children are dependent on the context in which the physical punishment takes place. Research evidence to support any positive outcomes associated with physical punishment is limited, and the evidence on negative outcomes is increasing. There are alternative disciplinary measures that can be used.
We sympathise with this mum, for what a hard place she must have found herself in with little support at the time to have snapped like she did.
If you’re ever in a situation similar and need to blow off steam, place your child in a safe place (if you’re physically able) and remove yourself from the area to take a few moments to calm down and react appropriately.