A 40-year-old Layou woman, who beat her 12-year-old son on Feb. 11 and 12, resulting in his hospitalisation, has been given a chance to get her life back on track.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, on Monday, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, ordered no criminal sanctions for the woman, who has also been a victim of abuse.
The woman had been in prison since Feb. 14, when she pleaded guilty to two assault charges in connection with the incident.
The court had ordered that she be remanded in custody until the completion of a social inquiry report, which caseworker, Sandra Augustus read to the court during Monday’s sentencing hearing.
“Listening to the report, this is somebody who needs help. That has been her life—a life of abuse and neglect. She is passing on what she knows. Sad, but that’s the reality?” Burnett said when the prosecution inquired about criminal penalty for the woman’s actions.
In addition to ordering that the woman, who has six children by six men, undergo three months of counselling, with a report submitted to the court by May 29, Burnett ordered that the woman’s son remain in the custody of the state.
The child was taken into state custody after his release from hospital.
According to the facts read by Prosecutor Constable Corlene Samuel, on Feb. 11, the child returned from school and his mother told him to pick up some dry clothes and hang out some wet ones on the clothesline.
While the child was doing so, the mother came out of the house and assaulted him with a barrage of obscene words then proceeded to beat him with a piece of stick behind his neck.
After the beating, the child went into the house and slept until the following day.
On Jan. 12, the child returned from school and his mother sent him to wash his uniform, which he did. The mother also inquired of the child whether he had eaten his lunch.
He told her yes.
However, sometime later, the woman saw a piece of bread near a suitcase in a bedroom and started to beat the child, accusing him of lying to her.
The child was able to escape and ran to the Layou Police Station, located nearby; where he told a Corporal of Police Best that his mother was beating him.
As the child was talking to the officer, his mother came by and the child was able to slip behind the counter, making his way to the area where prisoners sit.
The woman pushed the female officer aside and continued beating the child in the police station, until a male officer was able to wrest the belt from her.
In her social inquiry report, Augustus revealed that the
the 12-year-old boy is the only one of the woman’s six children who lives with the woman, who is resident in Layou, with her common-law husband.
The woman, who works once per week as a domestic, had three previous convictions — one for indecent language and two for wounding.
While in prison, the mother told the case worker that she absolutely regretted her action and missed her son as he was the only one around to give her a cup of water is she falls ill.
She further said that she couldn’t sleep during her incarceration and spent a lot of time crying.
‘we have a real situation’
Recounting to the caseworker the first beating of her son last week, the mother said she had gotten a belt and had put her son to kneel and had beaten him over his back.
She said he ran outside and ignored her orders to stop running and she got vex.
In the case of the second beating, the mother told the caseworker that a tall, slim police officer had told her to come into the police station and beat the child if she was bright.
She then pushed the female corporal aside and continued to beat the child until the male officer wrested the belt from her.
As part of the report, the caseworker had also interviewed the woman’s mother, who said she was a quiet person growing up but had made bad choices as an adult and had a problem with drinking.
A second report was also prepared by the social worker at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, where the child had been warded after the beating.
Burnett said he was concerned about the opinion that the child had given in the report.
The magistrate, however, did not disclose the child’s opinion.
He noted that the maximum sentence for the woman’s offence was a fine of EC$1,500 or three months in prison.
“But we have a real situation before us,” Burnett said.
He asked the caseworker her opinion of what the court should do and Augustus suggested that the mother be ordered to undergo counselling.
The caseworker also suggested that the child be returned to the mother’s custody after she completed the counselling.
Augustus further said that the woman and the child will be monitored to determine if she is a suitable parent and that the counsellor would determine how much counselling she needs.
The caseworker further said that the child is in Grade 6 and if the father is contacted and capable, the child can be placed in his custody.
“Father!” the senior magistrate said, “Remember your report,” he further told the caseworker, adding, “Don’t mention that word.”
The caseworker also said that neither of the child’s grandparents was not willing to take him into their custody because he steals.
The senior magistrate noted that when the mother first appeared in court she had said that she does not drink but the report had indicated otherwise.
At this point, the defendant said, “Is like beer and things.”
“If you drink five, six,” Burnett said, speaking of the accumulative effective of several beers.
“This is a child that has not received the best from his parents. That’s what it is,” Burnett said, adding, “The child has given his opinion about whether he wants to live with her.
As the sentencing hearing was drawing to a close, the mother asked the court if she would be allowed to see her child during the three month period.
The counsellor, who had joined the caseworker in the dock said yes, adding she would have to speak with the child and mother separately and together.
The mother told the court that she did not mean to treat the child in the way she had.
The senior magistrate, commenting to no one in particular, said that when he was younger he knew of people being beaten while kneeling.
“Kneel down on grater; that was the usual,” he said, adding that the world had moved past this type of abuse.
Kneel down on grater, get beaten till you lose control of your bladder and bowels. That is parenting in SVG. Parents try to remember how you felt when that punishment was meted out to you and have mercy on your children. Treat your children well, they may have to give you some water when you can’t get it for yourself. You may have to depend on them to clean your pee and poop when you get old and can’t do it yourself. They will then have the control and perhaps then they may remember your cruelty to them. STOP ABUSING CHILDREN.
Not every woman is lucky enough to have a child but it takes a special woman to be a MOTHER.Is she?
I saw my brothers got that kneeling on grater and bl ou w to kill from our father and we grew up with that kind of abuse. We survive though.
A very sad situation. I am glad that Mr. Burnett makes such great decisions for our country and society as a whole. We can all hope the cycle this family is on takes a detour. With many in SVG believing beatings and violence is good for our society, they should notice that it has not helped this family over 3 generations. I strongly urge that the police stop beating people in custody. Police should not only uphold the law but also set an example. It sends the wrong message when they beat people when they either do not like thier looks or merely suspect them of either breaking the law or doing something they do not like. This perpetuates a society that believes corrections require beatings and violence even when not guilty. With that we are going down the wrong road. Mr Burnett should go into politics. His decision-making has impressed many of us.
Duke, every time you make a comment you have to talk about Police. I wonder how many times Police beat you?
My mother would have been in jail for years. All her children got their arse cut. But you know what: when I visited my oldest brother in the US, we would sit for hours crying because we missed our mother.
When we grew up and I tried to correct mother, he would say to me leave mother alone. Mother had a saying: “Only he who holds the iron know the heat”. No one knew what these young women had to put-up with during the early 1900, just after slavery was abolished. Life was tough and I realize later what many women endured in Layou.
I must confess discipline has gone down the drain and if parents don’t try it now the police will do it later when the child is a criminal. As a matter of fact he is already a criminal. He’s alive after the cut-arse, but when the police go after him he will be shot.
Sad to hear this vicious cycle of abuse.
Sorry for both mother and child.
there is a difference between abuse and discipline ……period .
some of these parents themselves desperately needs help and counseling
Life is so hard for the average Vincy that they take it out on their children in desperation. This is a consequence of ignorance and the horrible economic reality in SVG.
If I travel to England, the US, SVG and other place and meet many of my former students. They complain how much I put “licks on them”. Ironically they still show respect when I am around and warn me that things are very bad these days. Teachers, mothers, fathers can’t discipline their kids these days. The parents are afraid of the police, the police are afraid of the school authorities, the school authorities are afraid of the government and the government is afraid of the voters, but the kids are afraid of nobody. This system was explained more clearly by a speaker at a conference.
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