Jessica Beagley's appearance on the show, in which she was seen punishing her son with hot sauce and a cold shower, has earned her a misdemeanor child abuse charge. And Russia's Commissioner of Children's Rights tells the NY Post that if she's convicted, "there is quite a big chance" that both her adopted kids could be sent back to Russia, where they were born. Psychologist Henry Paul says "hot saucing" is indeed abusive, and the video of Beagley and her son is frankly difficult to watch. But she also has defenders.
Beagley's sister-in-law says media coverage of the family is one-sided: "They did not discuss the challenges (the child) is going through and the problems they have had on getting him to this point. They just focus on the punishment." And Beagley didn't come up with "hot saucing" on her own. Facts of Life alum Lisa Whelchel wrote about it in her book Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline (published by Focus on the Family) — where, bizarrely, she promoted it as preventing later divorce: "I don't think that I am being far-fetched to believe that if I can teach my child the gravity of lying with the sting of a drop of hot sauce then I could conceivably spare them the exponential pain of divorce, because in marriage trustworthiness is critical."
Actually, that does sound far-fetched — and Beagley's sister-in-law's argument that "you don't know how bad this kid is" doesn't really hold water either. The Beagley family is clearly going through some pretty serious challenges, but forcing a child to drink hot sauce and stand naked under cold water until he screams isn't the way to address them. Whether what she's done is serious enough that her kids should be sent away is another question — according to the Post, a Russian official visited the family and decided none of the kids were in danger. It seems like the ideal solution would be for the family to develop better techniques of discipline and conflict resolution — which may be why they went on "Dr. Phil" in the first place. Show officials aren't commenting on their decision to actually air the hot sauce footage, which seems a questionable one at best. But maybe the exposure will spur the Beagley family to find the help it needs — hopefully from a professional who isn't on TV.
'Dr. Phil' Abuse Kid Could Be Sent Back To Russia [NY Post]
Utah Relatives Say 'Hot Sauce Mom' Getting A Bad Rap [KSL]
Mother Arrested For Putting Hot Sauce In Son's Mouth As Punishment [KTRE]
Mother's Hot Sauce Discipline Tactics Land Her In Hot Water [Yahoo! News]
"Saucing" Of Children Popularized By 2004 Christian Author [Examiner.com]