P.E.I. man jailed for spanking toddler

Ryan Ross
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Prince Edward Island provincial court

An Island man who spanked his toddler hard enough to leave a bruise was sentenced today to 30 days in jail.

The man appeared before Judge Nancy Orr in provincial court for sentencing after previously entering a guilty plea.

The Guardian has chosen not to identify the man in order to protect the child’s identity.

During today’s appearance, Crown attorney Jeff MacDonald told the court the man and his then girlfriend were having trouble getting the child to bed one night so the accused took off the toddler’s diaper and spanked him.

The mother was aware the father planned to spank the child.

The day after the spanking the child was at daycare where staff noticed bruises on his buttocks.

Child protection services was called and the police investigated the incident.

The man later told police he took the diaper off because a spanking doesn’t hurt when it’s on.

A pre-sentence report was prepared and it detailed some of the challenges the father was facing, including mental health issues, although there was no indication they played a role in the abuse.

The parents have since separated.

Defence lawyer Thane MacEachern said his client acknowledged he took the wrong approach to dealing with the toddler, he recognized his actions were wrong and he regretted them.

In handing down a sentence, Orr said photos taken eight days after the spanking showed significant bruising that covered the whole left buttock and left marks on the other side.

“Obviously a very significant assault to leave a mark of that nature on the buttocks,” she said.

Orr said it was a matter of concern that the father took the diaper off so the spanking would hurt and she added it wasn’t acceptable to discipline a child in a way that leaves bruises.

Along with the jail time, the man will be on probation for two years after his release during which time he is to have no contact with the child unless he has permission from his probation officer and child protection services.

Orr also ordered the man to pay a $100 victim surcharge and he will have to provide a DNA sample for the national databank.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Geographic location: Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Judene
    September 30, 2014 - 01:20

    While I don't agree with spanking so hard that you bruise the child, I don't think there's anything wrong with taking off a child's clothes and diaper (or underwear) for a spanking. It needs to hurt or why spank? We've found that spanking the kids naked with a ping pong paddle works well.

  • Impressed for once
    July 24, 2014 - 14:27

    I'm actually impressed that child and family services actually did something to save a child for once. I cannot count how many times they visit people that do not actually need the visits. What actual abuse is and what they often see as a use is ridiculous. Time outs are abuse now? Sad situation we will have with this generation.

  • OH MY
    July 24, 2014 - 12:36

    THE TEACHERS BOTH MALE AND FEMALE IN THE OLD PRINCE STREET(1953-1955) AND QUEEN CHARLOTTE JR HIGH (1955-1958) YOU HAD RESPECT OR ELSE..I'M SURE THERE ARE OTHERS OUT THERE WHO KNOW WHERE I"M COMING FROM....... DON'T SPOIL THE ROD.............

  • problemintheworldtoday
    July 24, 2014 - 07:17

    not that I think the father should have spanked the toddlers bare bottom, but im a mother of 3 grown children and let me tell u tehy got a tap on the hand or on the bum not hard enough to leave marks of course ,I would never hurt my children but kids today have total control. Time outs are not even allowed . It was told to my dadughter by a social worker that she is not to put her children on timeout anymore as it is a form of abuse" bull crap". kids now a days can say, do and act how they want and why? because society says so.I couldnt never imagine becoming a parent again in todays world.

  • Quiet Observer
    July 24, 2014 - 07:09

    I spanked my kids. or should I say gave them "bum slaps". I never did it hard enough to leave a bruise as that was not necessary. It was more the noise and the thought that you were doing it that worked. You didn't have to hurt them, and certainly not bruise them, to get the message across. When I grew up I was spanked by my Mum when I deserved it, and I knew I deserved it. Does this make her and I abusers? And it worked. Many of us got the strap in school. Some of us remember teachers (Sherwood School in late 60s/early 70s I recall) where teachers literally pinned kids against the wall too (I think many out there remember Mr. O). Does that make all those teachers and principals child abusers? I think todays society has gone too far with not disciplining children (not necessarily spanking, but in general discipline). Many parents blame everyone else when their children mess up - their friends, teachers, society in general, themselves - anyone but the child. Thus we are left with a generation of young people where many of them hold everyone else responsible for their lives, expect everyone else to look after them and feel nothing is their fault. There needs to be a happy medium where discipline is reintroduced, but abuse, such as the bruising in this case, is not tolerated.

  • Cody
    July 23, 2014 - 21:26

    I think it's safe to say that we all grew up in the time where we were all spanked or have friends/family who were spanked, that being said c'mon people, it's a different time here now, if you have to take a diaper off of a child to "make it hurt" something's wrong, it's the parent and not the child, if you have to assert your dominance like in this case, then you are a coward and a bully, yeah "timeouts" may be ineffective in some households, can you say you're proud of yourself for spanking your child?

    • LA
      July 24, 2014 - 12:51

      The whole point that people here are making is that there is a difference between a little bum rap and and beating that leaves bruises. So it's not your call to presume people are ashamed of using disciplinary spankings, which are different from from frustration beatings. Yes, I would be proud of myself for having the guts to do something hard in order to save my child's life, health, or character. Which is completely opposite of what this man did. Sorry to disappoint you.

  • Ds
    July 23, 2014 - 21:22

    I really didn't see a point in mentioning the mom knew the father was going to spank the child ... Id understand if the mom 'knew' he was going to bruise him but the way I take it in this article is your pointing a finger at her as well. I think you might want to revise it since clearly she didn't play a part in it and has since then left him.

    • Wrong
      July 24, 2014 - 12:02

      She is just as responsible as the father. She allowed it to happen. Not sure why you would defend that. To say she didn't play a part is absurd.

    • Ds
      July 28, 2014 - 10:09

      And where did you read that she knew the father was going to bruise him

  • @Hun @SomeSense @ @Islander
    July 23, 2014 - 20:12

    While I agree that today's social climate may suggest that today's "parenting tactics" may not be working, I would suggest that some of the youth you are speaking of may be parented by people who continue to use abusive and ineffective parenting strategies, OR, in the absence of using abusive techniques, don't discipline at all. There are many youth growing up to be kind, generous, polite, healthy, successful, respectful individuals who have never been spanked growing up. Obviously no type of discipline strategy is going to work 100% of the time because a person's outcome is not determined by discipline techniques alone---there are many other factors that impact how a person turns out. That being said, evidence demonstrates that spanking is harmful to children and more likely to result in antisocial behaviours. There is also lots of information that if non-abusive strategies are used properly, they are quite successful. I honestly can't understand why any parent would want to hit their child, and then want to justify it. That's not what we do with people we love.

    • Shutterbug
      July 24, 2014 - 15:47

      Brilliant. Wonderfully said. We don't hit people we love. As an adult, I would not respond well to being hit as a way to manage my behaviour. Why would it be any different for a child?

  • Susannah
    July 23, 2014 - 15:17

    SomeSense, my children are not "out of control" and I have never laid a finger on them. I have never had to. In fact, I can count on one hand, how many times I have had to use time outs. They have never been grounded, and taking privileges away works well, but, again, I rarely use that. There are far better ways to rear well behaved children, without resorting to physical violence. No need to leave bruises. That is a physical sign of your control and power over someone who is smaller than yourself. The only one getting anything out of that, is the abuser. While I agree there are a lot of " out of control" children and teens out there, there are just as many " out of control" parents that are most likely raising those kids..

    • loving parent
      July 24, 2014 - 07:37

      I agree with you Susannah. I have never hit my child, can count on one hand the time outs he had. He is now a teen. He's well behaved, respectful, loving, thoughtful, considerate, caring, and responsible. As per the old saying, "a child grows to be the love they have known." I was spanked as a child, had bruises on my bottom for days. All it taught me was to be afraid of dad.

    • GladForYou
      July 25, 2014 - 18:32

      I'm glad neither of you have had to really discipline your children but they don't all turn out like that. On the other hand, there are some that are on a path that they can't be deterred from, spankings or not. I remember the handful of times I was spanked and it definitely worked. I was never spanked again because I knew better. I'm a quick learner. So how would you two deal with a bull headed older child? Doesn't care if you take his things away. Doesn't care if you ground him. Won't physically stay in timeout. Now what? Remember you can't spank him right? And you can't physically force him back to timeout.

  • SomeSense
    July 23, 2014 - 13:49

    While I am totally against what the father did here (due to severity and age of child involved) I would like to say that If the child were not so young I do not feel leaving a bruise on the buttocks should be a crime. For example leaving a bruise on the butt of a out of hand preteen should not be considered an abuse in my opinion, a bruise somewhere like the face sure. Or if it is continual abuse or for no apparent reason but as a punishment I do not think it always out of line. A parent should be able to spank their child within reason as other punishments like taking away things or timeouts are only so effective and it of course should also never be the first resort but at times it would be merited but I guess we would rather have more out of control children then to teach them actions have consequences. Should you just wait until they end up in jail or dead because of how they act out in society and then say well at least they were not spanked.

    • So WRONG on so many levels
      July 23, 2014 - 14:24

      I can't even begin to comment on your post...hopefully you do NOT have any children.

    • Islander
      July 23, 2014 - 14:45

      Under no circumstance do you ever hit a child no matter what age they are. It's abuse SomeSense and should be punished my law. There is always other forms of punishment such as timeout or take something from them. If you have to hit a child to punish them then your nothing but a bully!

    • senseless
      July 23, 2014 - 14:57

      Sounds like violence is the answer is your home! Have you never heard that violence begets violence? There are plenty of effective ways to discipline a toddler, child, or teen without resorting to violence. Maybe those out of hand preteens need to learn respect instead of being smacked or hit by their parents. Give your head a shake man, violence is never the answer!

    • @ Islander
      July 23, 2014 - 16:37

      You are so wrong in your thinking that I believe you have never raised children & if I'm wrong , your kid's must be some of the ones today that has no respect for anything or any one & are running the roads (unknown to you) destroying - stealing - taking drugs & assaulting whoever they feel like . Parents like you must be proud of them & then cry like hell when they really do something serious to innocent people for no better reason than what they class as fun . You read about them in the paper every day .

    • huh
      July 23, 2014 - 16:51

      @islander. ok. But you are condemning a generation of parents (and teachers for that matter) as child abusers. Are you prepared to claim that today's parenting tactics have a better outcome than those of the previous generation? I see no evidence of that. Frankly, I'll put previous parenting up against your "timeout" tactics day of the week.

    • Jack Rabbit
      July 23, 2014 - 17:35

      I'm not saying a parent should beat their kids but I have had a few kicks in the rear end growing and I never got in trouble and I turned out alright. Alot of my friends growing up were raised the same way where we knew the difference between right and wrong and also having respect for others. and we all turned out fine.

    • GrewUpRight
      July 23, 2014 - 17:55

      I do partially agree with SomeSense but it is only to be used as a last resort, should only be spanking on the bottom, only when they are old enough to comprehend the action and the punishment, and never hard enough to leave marks. While I was mostly a well behaved youngster, which wasn't all that long ago, I did have my moments of unruliness. The normal punishments were the loss of items or privileges which was usually enough to deter me from repeating my actions. There were a handful of times that I was so out of line that I was spanked, and once with a belt with no buckle. Not hard enough to leave welts but still painful. Although I don't remember what those actions were, I do remember never repeating them in fear of another spanking. This deterrent towards certain behaviors allowed me to become the civilized person I am today. There are times when the usual punishments are not effective. Even just recently I have been an observer of a failure of the normal punishments having any effect. What do you do when the preteen does not care if they lose items or privileges? What do you do when they become so unruly that they do not listen to timeouts? What do you do then when they no longer listen to you? Most of the time, just the threat of a punishment is enough to sway a child's mind, but not always. The two of you that replied saying spanking is abuse and should be stopped has never had to deal with a very hard-headed child. Growing up, I remember those children that had new-age parents. They did not care for the normal threats and practically got away with everything. Of course we were jealous but I have seen how they have turned out and I congratulate my parents with how they raised me. On the other hand, leaving bruises on a toddler still in diapers is child abuse. It's questionable whether that toddler has the understanding that what they did was wrong so the spanking may not have accomplished anything. And to leave bruises means he definitely over-did it. He deserves what he got and I hope he takes the time in jail to think about what he did. I will have no problem spanking my child on the bottom when all other alternatives have failed.

    • @ some sense
      July 24, 2014 - 07:48

      according to the article, the evidence was that the bruises were still there EIGHT DAYS later! That's one hell of a beating! Ditto the prior comment, that I sure hope you don't have kids. As said previously, a child grows to be the love they have known.... mine were NEVER struck, were always loved and treated tenderly. They are amazing, kind, gentle, responsible people now.

    • @ jack rabbit
      July 24, 2014 - 07:50

      Like you, I also had a few "good kicks in the butt" as a kid. All that taught me was to fear my dad and his temper...

    • @ some sense
      July 24, 2014 - 08:59

      When I was a kid, my father hit me on the bottom, leaving bruises. This continued until I was a teen. At age 16, I ran away from home because I hated him for what he did, and hated being hurt. So, let me tell you from first hand experience, you're way out to lunch and I hope you never have kids, and never have access to any.

    • SomeSense
      July 24, 2014 - 09:35

      Well I see several comments against me and then some in support of my point of view. I think an open discussion on this is good, but those comments that just say I hope you don’t have any kids do not add anything helpful or meaningful. Let me be clear I think this father got what he deserved (or perhaps not even enough) since this was totally abuse. I should also say that I would not consider spanking a child of less than school age at all, in any manner. I as many others did get spanked in my youth and I have no doubt I did deserve it, it was not excessive, it did not lead to violence but it did help teach me a lesson. I also know of many others that were spanked who also deserved and they turned out to be fine members of society as well. I also do know of one case were a father was too quick to jump to this action and also went too far with it at times. All I am saying is that every spanking should not be considered abuse that is insane and maybe we are in new times but that doesn't mean all the old methods are all worthless. I think there can be no doubt in some cases these new methods just do not work, so in those cases don't try spanking instead get them on harmful drugs or have them institutionalized I am sure that will do them a lot of good. I do not think any child less than high school should be on any mood or mind altering substances, and even then I am pretty much against it. No doubt in many of the hard cases the parents could have raised them differently from the beginning but not in all of them sometimes you can do everything right and still have an out of control kid. All those that have or will spank(ed) are not child abusers. To all those you have wonderful kids and have never needed to take such action great, I am happy for you but I suspect if you were raising some of the other kids out there you would change your tune in the best interests of said child.