Earlier this year, a woman in Nanjing, China was put on trial in a case that illustrated the controversial practice of corporal punishment as motivational aid. The case begs the question of where to draw the line as a parent.
The mother, identified only as Li, confessed to beating her 9-year-old adopted son with a jump rope and back scratcher. The offense? He hadn’t done his homework, and he’d lied (the horror!). The boy had terrible welts across his back, legs, and arms. He was the third child of his biological parents, who lived in a rural part of the country. Li, his aunt, adopted the child in the hopes of giving him a better education in the city.
In September, Li was sentenced to six months in prison after a medical report stated that the boy had suffered an undisclosed “minor injury” as a result of the beating. That ruling was appealed. While Li admitted in court that she had beaten the boy, she insisted that she was just trying to discipline him. She did not believe she was a bad mother and apologized for inflicting the punishment as she pleaded not guilty.
During the appeal, both the boy and his biological parents pleaded for mercy from the court. They argued that Li had simply taken the wrong approach in handling him. The judge said the sentence of 6 months in prison was already a lenient one, tempered by the boy’s willingness to forgive Li.
The boy is back in the custody of his biological parents, but only temporarily.