(NECN) - Police in Lowell, Mass. have descbribed an "horrific scene" of domestic violence, after a mother was charged with beating bloody her 10-year-old daughter, and dragging her up a flight of stairs by the ankle.
Carla Williams, 27, reportedly told officers "she has the right to discipline her child," Lowell Police Capt. Kelly Richardson told The Boston Herald.
Hilary Levey Friedman, Harvard Sociologist joined "The Morning Show" to discuss the so-called parenting decision.
Do parents have the right to discipline their child?
Of course! More than anything parents have the right to raise their children. We might not agree with how our neighbors or children's classmates parents choose to raise kids-what they feed them for dinner, what they do with them afterschool, what they wear-but they can make choices.
When does parental discipline cross a line?
Those choices do have limits. And when those limits are crossed the state intervenes-often in the form of law enforcement, which is what just happened in Lowell.
The legal doctrine of "the best interests of the child" has been around for about a century. Children's rights is a newer concept but it is powerful and has helped to protect children from various types of abuse-including physical and psychological abuse.
When a child's safety is threatened through physical abuse discipline has gone too far. Blood, bruises, and broken bones are a sure sign of discipline crossing a line. When others witness abuse, as a neighbor did in this case, we are left to imagine what goes on behind closed doors.
Should parenting require a license?
In some ways, parenting is a privilege and not a right. If you don't take care of your child in such a way that promotes their best interests you can lose the chance to parent independently.
Those of us who are parents know that parenting can be unpredictable and it's hard to prepare for all situations. Some people need more help to know what the right thing to do is than others.
Risk factors and warning signs: Youth, poverty, previous criminal charges or investigations by child services (Some of these are related, of course). In the case of Carla Willliams in Lowell unfortunately all of these risk factors apply.
We should have a safety net of parental education available for all parents. Those who work with children-like those in the medical field and in education-can help direct families to particular resources (like parenting classes, parenting books/websites, etc.).
While parents don't need a license or certificate to parent, we all need education and knowledge. Once a line is crossed for some parents though, they have to prove themselves and get more education to earn a "parenting license" and to get their children back. It appears that will be the case for this mom in Lowell.
, the morning show
, home & family
, Hilary Levey Friedman
, carla williams
, woman punches her child