Appropriate parenting or criminal behavior? That's the question being asked across the US in regards to the case of a Louisiana woman arrested Monday for whipping her young sons after they burglarized a neighbor's house. Among the people speaking up for Schaquana Evita Spears, a 30-year-old single mom of six, is Lisa Nicholson—the woman whose Baton Rouge home Spears's sons, ages 13, 12, and 10, broke into. "I would prefer for her to spank her own kids than for them to come into someone's house and for [the homeowner] to kill them," Nicholson tells the Advocate. The fate they faced instead after allegedly stealing what the Advocate reports was $1,700 in goods, including a computer and hoverboard: Per the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office report, the oldest boy's wounds were bleeding, and the 12-year-old's skin was broken by the lashes.
WBRZ reports the 13-year-old's injuries were on his arms, with marks on his body, and he told police an RCA cable was used; the youngest boy had a small scratch on the hand. In a statement, the District Attorney Hillar Moore said the case is under review and noted "the law does not allow excessive pain or cruelty but does allow physical parental discipline." But some experts, referencing a 2016 study, tell the Advocate that corporal punishment is not effective and can actually lead to worse behavior. "It's been hell," Spears—whose kids were, as of Wednesday, in the care of a grandmother—tells WBRZ. "I never could imagine trying to be a good mother would end me up in jail." A GoFundMe page set up for Spears says she lost her job over the incident. "Jus [sic] want my life back," she wrote on Facebook on Friday. (These bank workers were publicly spanked for "not exceeding themselves.")