*I support physical punishment of children. But what we saw in the instance of local Texas judge William Adams, and his daughter Hillary, was over and beyond physical punishment. It was not only abuse, it was child abuse by someone paid to prevent actions just like it.
Corporal punishment is a useful tool for disciplining young children because they are unable to reason as adults. So any explanation as to why not to eat chocolate bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be useless. Similarly, young children are unable to sort through their desires and determine which are more important and safe versus which are dangerous or can be put off for later. This is why it is reasonable to spank a 7 year old who wants to play with knives or tries to fry chicken.
But these statements become less and less applicable as children grow up and mature. The conversations that fly over the head younger kids and make spanking reasonable, can be had with teenagers. This makes corporal punishment unnecessary at best and misguided at worst. Teenagers are less likely to respond in the way that is desired because they seek to be treated more as an adult and less as a child.
But even if corporal punishment were understandable, this instance was clearly over the line. The video shows Judge Adams beating his daughter with a belt while his wife berates her verbally. One of the reasons spanking teenagers is a bad idea is because the parents employing discipline must use enough force to harm but not enough to be considered abuse; this is a very fine line to straddle and too often the adult crosses it.
In this case Judge Adams admits that he lost his temper, acknowledging that he acted inappropriately. Hallie Adams, his then wife, claims that he has or had some sort of addiction as an excuse for his going over the line. Hillary Adams, after recording this instance of abuse, now wishes she hadn’t exposed the footage because of her love for her father and not wanting to put him in a bad light. In other words everyone involved knew that Judge Adams had gone too far in this instance.
The final problem with this episode is that in his professional life Judge Adams presides over cases involving child abuse. So not only are we looking at an occurrence of child abuse, but it is likely that Adams would operate with prejudice on the bench knowing that he behaves/behaved in the same way.
In total this video exposed two tragedies and one questionable decision. Fortunately one of these situations can be corrected. Judge Adams should preside over cases that do not involve child abuse. He may be a fine jurist and deserves to be able to make a living. Just not when the question is about beating children.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book examining American sports culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. He can be reached at [email protected]