Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Man Who Slapped Child in Walmart Sentenced To One Year

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Last year, I wrote about Roger Stephens after he slapped 2 year old Paige  because she was crying at a Walmart.  Paige was crying and irritable, when 61 year old Roger Stevens approached the pair.  “If you don't shut the baby up, I will shut her up for you,” he said.  He did not testify at his trial but  he did apologize to the girls family for his actions. Stephens was sentenced to one  year in jail. He was given credit for the four months he has already served and by March he will eligible for house arrest.

Sliz said his 61-year-old client was blindsided by the media attention his case generated.

"He's absolutely amazed this incident took on such Goliath proportions," Sliz said. "He never in his wildest imagination believed it would mushroom into this."

Sliz called his client's behaviour "the ultimate knee-jerk reaction."

"He put his hands on a child when he clearly shouldn't have, and he realizes that," the attorney said.

Honestly, I can se why Stephens would be surprised.  We tend to give a lot of lip service to caring about the welfare of children but we have a tendency to treat them like possessions.  Parents routinely slap or emotional abuse children while people turn a blind eye.  We don’t believe it is our place to intervene even though we know that there is a real cost to this kind of behaviour.  How can we raise them to be good adults, if we don’t value them from the beginning.

What Stephens did was wrong.  He deserves the punishment that he received but this is just one incident amongst many, when it comes to getting physical with children.  As I wrote in the original post, it is easy  to find rage because Stephens was a stranger to the child but seldom does violence against children illicit the same emotion when the abuser is a parent. 

There is no room for equivocation, slapping a child for any reason is wrong, no matter who is doing it.  It is not discipline and does not teach the child anything.  All it does is relieve the stress of the attacker.  While we are condemning Stephens, we should stop and think of all of the other times we felt it was acceptable to rationalize the exact same behaviour on the part of someone else.