Daycare Beating By 9-Year-Old Elicits Violent Responses—And Children Suffer


As I watched the video of the 9-year-old child who punched, kicked, bit and pinched babies at a Mississippi daycare late last week, I, like many others, was shaken to the core.  I was horrified, speechless, and sick to my stomach.  I didn’t quite know how to process what I was seeing.

The boy’s behavior tells me that this is something he learned.  Something was done to him or he witnesses it.  The fact that he takes medicine should not be discounted.  Clearly he’s taking his aggression, frustration, and boredom out on weaker people. This is learned behavior. If children are hit for every inappropriate behavior at a young age, with nobody explaining what they’ve done wrong, then the only thing they are being taught is to act aggressively towards those younger and weaker than they are.

As infuriated as I was watching that child attack those toddlers, it never occurred to me that someone should beat him.  Violence against a child is never the right response.  And hitting somebody else’s child is illegal.

It’s interesting that so many people say, “I would be in jail today if that were my child.”  What does it mean that, as a people, we are so quick to default to prescriptive violence? Don’t we realize that just puts more Black people into the prison pipeline and the foster care system?  The whole community needs to learn some conflict resolution skills, ASAP!

As horrific as that video of the 9-year-old boy attacking younger children might be, we need to be coming together—as families, as neighbors, and as communities—to learn the reasons behind such horrible behavior.  Look into his family background, his home environment, the medicine he’s alleged to be taking—maybe violent outbursts could be a side effect?

Just as it was startling to hear sweet, beautiful Gladys Knight talk about permanently disfiguring a troubled teen girl, and justifying it with cultural references (“I’m from the South”), I’m disappointed to see so many otherwise sane and rational adults revert so automatically to violent forms of punishment in the name of “teaching some respect,” “administering some good home training,” and “showing a child right from wrong.”

I submit that introducing violence makes effective discipline more difficult, because the beating becomes the central point rather than the child’s behavior choices being problematic.  It disturbs me deeply that Black parents especially are so very, very quick to talk about straightening children out through spankings and beatings.

The conversations that erupt in response to shocking videos and celebrity fodder are perfect examples of where the healing and growth needs to take place…

Read the rest of Stacey Patton’s piece at Spare The Kids.

Dr. Stacey Patton is an adoptee, child abuse survivor and former foster child turned children’s advocate, journalist, historian, college professor, and motivational speaker.  Patton is the author of That Mean Old Yesterday – A Memoir.  She has written for The New York Times,Washington PostBaltimore SunNewsday and The Crisis Magazine. She blogs at Spare The Kids.


1. Videotaped Beatings and Child Abuse Handbook Show Why Hitting Kids Is Dead Wrong
2.  A Reformed Spanker Reveals Why She Wishes She Would Have Spared the Rod.
3. My Son And the Knife: When Mental Illness Turns a Boy Into a Man
4. Spanking, Time-Outs and the Soul Train Line: Getting To the Discipline That Works For Us

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Thank you so much for this. I was abused violently (my parents called it spanking but it was so far beyond even a “normal” spanking) as a child and decided to not continue the cycle and spank my own child. It seems like people take it so personally when I tell them we don’t spank. Stop using “well I was spanked and I turned out ok.” as an excuse. We can all endure amazing things, but it doesn’t make those things we endured right. Not spanking doesn’t equal absolute lack of discipline and free-range children. It just means you have to be a lot more creative and in tune with that child. It is much more work to not spank because you realize that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution (like spanking). It’s not easy, but I’d never change it.

  2. Thank you for this. Until we as a community stop seeing spanking as the answer, we will continue to fill our prisons with our black babies. I always tell people, if spanking worked so well, we (black folks) would not be the highest prison population. It is time to stop beating our children to the penitentiary and adopting practices that promote, love, healthy dialogue and ways in which they will be expected to act in the world in order to be successful.

  3. Denene… it’s the legacy of slavery… even though we are as far removed from it as we currently are…

    • Donna, give me a break. That boy knows nothing about slavery and what happened all those years agot has nothing at all to do with what he’s doing. Using that to excuse this violence is as unbelievable as it is pathetic.

  4. Well said Lori! Exactly what I was thinking. Our prisons are filled with Black people, most of whom were probably spanked, or beaten as a child. In general, our race believes in hitting children. And in general, our race is at the bottom- socioeconomically speaking.

    And while I may not disagree with a quick swat on the butt for a misbehaving child, I can honestly say that, after working with children with disabilities for 7 years, there is ALWAYS a non-violent alternative to getting your kids to act right, and spanking is actually NOT necessary. If you are going to spank from time to time, you better make sure you are also giving your child lots of LOVE and encouragement.

    My heart is so heavy after reading this. We, as parents, need to take the TIME to love and educate our kids. Reinforce good behavior! When it comes to bad behavior, ignore it (for “little” things- a lot of kids do little stuff for attention, if you ignore it, they will lose interest in doing the behavior very quickly), or follow through with whatever you asked the child to do, or punish with appropriate consequences such as loss of a privilege. And be consistent! For ex, if you tell your child, “It’s time to go home” and child won’t get off the swing, pick the child up and put him in the car. Ignore the whining. Explain things when he calms down. If you ALWAYS follow through with your rules, the kid will get it- no hitting necessary. Beating just leads to disdain for authority, learned helplessness, feelings of unworthiness… and it doesn’t TEACH anything! A kid who gets beat only learns what NOT to do in the presence of the punisher. They don’t learn critical thinking, or positive behaviors to replace the punished behavior. They just learn to be fearful, and they will probably develop an anger problem themselves.

    Sorry for my rant. Thank you Denene, for posting this. Your website looks great and I appreciate the topics you bring up here.

  5. Its not the act of beating n violence of children its called parents dicipling their children to recognize whats good n bad.tough love .yes when I got in trouble I was scared to get a spanking so I knew I didn’t want to get spanked or scolded.most kids want to make their parents proud therefore doing good things.what a joke to even say the kid was provoked.Really .did you watch the video.and his grandpa is just as ignorant , apparently it looks like the grandpa is a sole provider or main caretaker of the boy.they should first drug test him n find out hes probably on drugs n find him neglegent and incapable of even raising this kid.wheres his father n mother .they need to check them out drug test them , see how long theyve been abusing the system n the rest of thrir kids.and im sure theres more kids by them anyway.and no its not stereotyping it’s Facts guaranteed.just a poor excuse of a system.blame something or someone else for their actions.cant even believe this is even a topic for discussion.if video proof can’t prove someone guilty than nothing will ever work or get fixed or punished.what a goddamn joke, all the people involved should truely be ashamed of themselves if this boys parents n grandparents n cpa n police n judges n everyone else yes especially the boy isnt made to deal with the consequenes of their actions, so so sooooooooooooooooòooooooo soooooooooooooooooo sad and pathetic.sleep well

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