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Men's Health (USA), January-February 2006
Yankton Press & Dakotan, South Dakota, 3 January 2006
Justices Say Spanking Went Overboard
By Joe Kafka
PIERRE -- Without ruling that spanking an unruly child with a belt goes beyond the boundaries of a state law allowing corporal punishment, the South Dakota Supreme Court has decided that a Huron woman went overboard in correcting her daughter.
The unanimous decision on Thursday upheld an earlier ruling by Circuit Judge Jon Erickson, who said it was child abuse when the girl was struck several times on the buttocks with a belt.
Neither the girl nor her mother are identified in court records because of a state law providing confidentiality in abuse-and-neglect proceedings.
The girl, 11, was spanked on Aug. 2, 2004, because she was crying, screaming and slamming doors. She had been grounded much of the summer for stealing a music CD from a store on June 4 and continuing to misbehave.
The girl had a tantrum after her stepfather said she could no longer go to swimming lessons because she refused to clean marker scribblings she'd made on the carpet and walls of her bedroom.
When the girl failed to quiet down, the mother punished her with a belt. The girl later ran, crying, to the local Department of Social Services office.
Social workers had been in contact with the family two years earlier after a teacher reported seeing bruises on a younger sister.
The parents said at the time that they used a belt as a last resort and also punished their children by requiring them to stand in a corner on one leg. The couple's three children were temporarily removed from the home but were returned after the couple agreed to attend parenting classes.
Testifying after an abuse-and-neglect petition was filed against the mother last year and the 11-year-old was put in foster care, the mother said she'd had contact with social workers while the family lived earlier in Tennessee. She said that state allowed parents to spank their children, defending the 2004 spanking as reasonable and a last resort.
Although Judge Erickson said the woman had the legal authority to punish her daughter, he said the belt spanking was excessive and amounted to abuse.
State law allows parents to use physical punishment on children who misbehave, but the punishment must not be severe, the Supreme Court said.
"The Legislature has determined ... that corporal punishment will not be absolutely prohibited, nor will it be allowed in all instances with any amount of force a parent decides to use," wrote Chief Justice David Gilbertson.
Physical punishment of children is permitted if it is necessary and the force is reasonable, the high court added.
Justice Judith Meierhenry said she agrees with the circuit judge's determination that the mother went overboard in using a belt to spank her daughter, but the justice said the high court's ruling provides little guidance on the amount of legal force a parent can use.
"What appears to be unacceptable in this case is that (the) mother used a belt and hit the child six or seven times with a force that did not leave bruises but made the child uncomfortable," Meierhenry wrote.
"This restricted interpretation could be a very slippery slope for the trial courts," she added. "Spanking is out of favor under modern theories of child rearing, yet the Legislature still recognizes the parent's right to enforce physical punishment. Thus, resolution of these conflicting theories is left to the individual judge on a case-by-case basis and indubitably does not give clear direction to parents who might be hauled into court on abuse-and-neglect claims."
The Dallas Morning News, Texas, 13 January 2006
To UT recruit Kindle, 'Pops' is king
By Tim MacMahon
Sergio Kindle won't see much of Austin's Sixth Street party scene if his father has his way.
Woodrow Wilson's All-America linebacker/tailback graduated early and will start classes at Texas next week, but his father's curfew will still be enforced.
Johnny Walker bought Kindle a cellular phone to make it easy to keep track of him. Walker has already warned his son to expect a nightly call at 9 p.m.
"If he isn't in his room," Walker said, "I'll be down there in a minute."
Walker has always gone to great lengths to get the best out of his two sons, Kindle, 18, and Calvin Walker, 17. He's a single father determined to see his sons succeed despite the absence of their mother, who he said was a drug addict.
Kindle's a humble superstar who was one of the nation's most highly recruited players and will sign his letter of intent Feb. 1. Calvin, a Woodrow junior, dreams of playing against his older brother in college.
Walker coached his sons in football until they went to Woodrow, where he is a frequent practice visitor who eagerly voices his opinion. He instilled a work ethic in them by giving them chores around the house.
And he dragged them along to the odd jobs he worked to make ends meet. And he provided love and discipline in equal doses.
"Johnny was the mama and the daddy," said Woodrow basketball coach Pat Washington, a longtime family friend. "He rules that house with an iron fist."
Pops, as his sons call him, couldn't be prouder of his boys. That's obvious from the moment you walk in the door of the family's Oak Cliff home. (The brothers received a hardship waiver to attend Woodrow Wilson, in East Dallas, before Sergio's freshman year.)
The walls in the living room are decorated with photos of Sergio and Calvin in football uniforms, dating to the days when their father and Washington coached them at the Turnkey Boys Club. There are also plaques commemorating the careers of Kindle and his overshadowed brother, a Woodrow junior defensive lineman who earned all-district recognition the last two seasons.
A wooden paddle, wrapped in duct tape and tucked behind a couch, is a reminder of the tough times and their dad's strict nature.
Johnny Walker said he had never heard of crack cocaine until he learned that his sons' mother, with whom he lived but never married, was sneaking out of the house to smoke it while he worked at night.
Walker kicked her out of the house when the boys were toddlers. He came home one night to find a broken window and a note from neighbors that said they had taken the kids after witnessing their mother leaving in the middle of the night.
The brothers acknowledge that they harbored bitter feelings toward female authority figures for years. Walker said calls from teachers upset with his sons' behavior were daily occurrences.
"Any type of female say-so didn't fly with us," said Kindle, who has his mother's surname.
Acting up at school didn't fly with their father. He came up with a couple of simple rules for his sons: They got five licks for every call home from a teacher and one lick per point for grades under 75.
"I was a little rascal back in the day," said Calvin Walker, admitting that he was a bit more mischievous than his brother. Kindle said he used to be "easily persuaded" and often was paddled, too.
The paddle wasn't their father's only means for getting his point across. He'd often take them for long drives to discuss life.
"We did a lot of riding, a lot of talking," Johnny said.
"He gets mad when we win," Calvin said of his smack-talking dad. "He says we're cheating."
Sergio and Calvin said their friends enjoy hanging out at their home because Pops is cool. Johnny Walker likes for his house to be the hangout.
"That way I know what's going on," he said.
He'll have to work a little harder to keep up now, with Kindle living a couple hundred miles down Interstate 35. Walker will manage with several calls a day and a trip or two to Austin per month.
Pops kids Kindle that, if need be, he will pack the paddle.
The Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, 26 January 2006
Crime or punishment?
He testifies he wanted to teach - but not injure - his teenage son
By Sharon Coolidge
Former Cincinnati City Councilman Sam Malone on Wednesday defended whipping his son with a belt, explaining during his trial on a charge of domestic violence that he wanted to teach the teenager not to disrespect authority.
During three hours of testimony, Malone said at least three times that he was disappointed - not angry - at his 14-year-old son for disrespecting a teacher during a school field trip to Paramount's Kings Island on May 13.
"I told (my son), and he probably didn't believe me, that it hurt me more than it hurt him," Malone said.
Photographs taken at the hospital and introduced into evidence show welts on the teen's arms, legs, chest and buttocks.
At issue is whether Malone was within the law in punishing his son.
Ohio law permits corporal punishment, but says it can go too far. When it puts the child at risk of death, causes serious physical injury or results in substantial pain, a parent has crossed the line from punishment to a crime.
Malone waived his right to a jury trial, leaving the decision to Hamilton County Municipal Judge Russell Mock.
Mock said he'll issue a decision Feb. 17.
If Malone is found guilty, he could face a sentence of up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
The punishment went beyond reasonable discipline, said Assistant Columbus City Prosecutor Anne Murray, who is handling the case at the request of the Cincinnati Prosecutor's Office, which recused itself because of the conflict of interest presented by Malone being on the council when he was arrested.
"This wasn't a butt-whupping, this was more than a simple teaching moment," Murray told the judge in closing arguments. "What you have and what you'll be able to find is that Sam Malone committed domestic violence."
She repeatedly pointed out that Malone was a trained boxer, was a power lifter and had wrestled in high school.
Malone has never denied hitting his son, said Hal Arenstein, his lawyer.
"There's pain, that's the idea, that's the teaching element that's involved here," Arenstein said. "It may not be the way I raise my child or the way you raise yours, but to some fathers in this community, it's the only way to raise their child."
Malone's son testified Monday that his father was angry over the Kings Island incident and told him to go upstairs and take his clothes off, leaving only his underwear on.
"He started whipping me with a belt, he had it wrapped double on his hand," the teenager said. "He kept on hitting me, and I fell over, and he kept on hitting me."
He said that he was in pain and crying and Malone kept hitting him.
Malone testified Wednesday it wasn't enough to take privileges away or make the boy write an essay, as he had done before. He said he had hit his son three or four times in the past and felt the teacher's call, coming just days after he discovered his son forged his signature on a school note that said he may fail the eighth grade, was reasonable.
It was, however, the first time his son resisted, Malone said. "I spanked him, struck him on his buttocks twice," he said. "When I got ready to hit him again, he turned around and grabbed my right wrist."
The two grappled, with Malone gripping the teen in a headlock. He said they fell and he hit his son four more times.
"I grabbed his wrist to turn him around, I was aiming at his buttocks, but he moved."
Malone said he never meant to hit another part of his son's body.
Before leaving the room, Malone told his son he would be back and he was going to "beat the black off" him.
"I wanted him to think about what he had done, I wanted to scare him, I wanted him to realize what he did was inappropriate, that that type of behavior was totally unacceptable."
Raising a black teenager isn't easy, Malone said. "You have to teach them the fundamentals of life, to be competitive, not to look for handouts," he said. "There will be challenges, but they have to adapt and overcome them.
"I always try to communicate that the biggest challenge is the educational piece," Malone said. "Some guys do not maintain the discipline of school; they find ways to make quick cash, selling drugs, turning to a life of crime, doing illicit acts. Some guys just don't know better, but you have to stay focused."
Malone, 35, was arrested May 14 after another boy living in his Walnut Hills home called 911 and said the 14-year-old didn't feel safe there.
Malone's son then got on the phone, crying and repeatedly asking the police dispatcher if he'd have to return to the house.
A family member took the teen to the hospital. The teen said one welt from the belt's buckle disappeared just last month.
Malone hasn't had contact with his son since that night. The boy is staying with an aunt, who is seeking custody of her nephew. The boy's mother, who never married Malone, died in a 2002 car accident when the boy was 11. That's when the boy went to live with Malone.
Malone's arrest sparked controversy in Cincinnati as citizens weighed in on whether their councilman abused his son. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office was even called on to investigate whether Cincinnati police handled the arrest properly, resulting in a determination that police did not violate any laws.
Malone was not re-elected. In November's race for nine city council seats Malone placed 10th, 1,253 votes behind ninth-place finisher Cecil Thomas.
As Arenstein wrapped up his defense Wednesday, the attorney asked Malone if he loved his son.
Malone paused, his perfect posture crumpled.
He tucked his head to his chest, bit his lip and sniffed back tears. "Of course," he said, wiping a single tear away with the back of his hand.
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