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In May of this year, a social worker contacted the police seeking assistance for a welfare check on a 4-year-old girl named  Majelic Young who went missing for several months in Charlotte, N.C., According to CBS-17, Majelic’s older sibling was interviewed by police and told them that Majelic was punished for using the bathroom on herself; the warrant said Majelic’s mother Malikah Bennett, and 53-year-old Tammy Moffett, was charged in the case. Moffett was interviewed and charged with concealing a death and accessory after the fact (murder), forced her daughter to stand in the laundry room as a punishment;  Majelic  wasn’t allowed to sit down or leave for three days until she collapsed and hit her head.  Local WSOC-TV alleges that Young died in August 2020. 

Details in the warrant say Bennett attempted to perform CPR and once she could not revive the child, Bennett allegedly washed Majelic’s dead body and placed it into two trash bags.  The warrant said Bennett kept her daughter’s remains in a SUV for a few days before burying them in the backyard.  Bennett has been charged with child abuse and first-degree murder.

Tammy Moffett shown on the right and Malikah Bennett shown on the left

According to a review of 69 different studies from Turkey, Switzerland, the US, China, Canada, Greece, Japan, Colombia, and the United Kingdom, physical punishment had adverse effects on children’s behaviors and social competence over time.  

But, in the review, the results were mixed. When some children were spanked, they were ultimately able to comprehend the message of why their “bad” behavior might result in ongoing issues later in life and there were no lingering effects from being spanked.   

However, in severe cases, evidence showed that ongoing physical abuse led to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Alzheimer’s disease and major mental health disorders such as suicide later in life.

“In other words, as physical punishment increased in frequency, so did its likelihood of predicting worse outcomes over time,” said author Elizabeth Gershoff a professor in human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin in an interview.    

UNICEF Global Status Report:

According to Unicef Global status report “1 out of 2 children or 1 billion children suffer some form of violence each year. Nearly 3 in 4 children or 300 million children aged 2–4 years regularly suffer physical punishment and/or psychological violence at the hands of parents and caregivers.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and violence against children-UNICEF Report

The report indicated that the number of child abuse cases was complex.  For example, experts who studied this discovered that frontline professionals such as teachers, social workers, nurses, physicians who might under normal circumstances would note the signs of abuse and intervene.

Scolina Images/Getty

But because of COVID-19, these professionals were no longer having direct contact with children and therefore were unable to report suspected abuse.

If Not Spanking, What’s The Solution?

“Parents should never hit their child and never use verbal insults that would humiliate or shame the child,” said Dr. Robert Sege, who specializes in the study of child abuse and a leading author of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “During the first year, what infants need to learn is love.”    Other experts in the field of child development, they say parents need to be mindful of the positive things that their children do and reward them with praise. As the child ages, allow them to understand the natural consequences of their actions and correct them when they need guidance.  

Gen X on Corporal Punishments?

As of now, researchers believe change is underway. For example, a study published in April showed a decline in spanking from 1993 and 2017 primarily because of the change in attitudes among Gen X parents and millennials.  Gen X parents appear to use minor physical punishment when disciplining their children in comparison to previous generations.

And 50% of parents used to spank their children and that figure dropped to 35%. However, if we consider the standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 35% is still too high. In the case involving Majelic. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Lieutenant Bryan Crum told reporters during a press conference earlier this year.

“I’ve worked homicide most of the last 10 years, and I can tell you this case is alarming,” “It’s disturbing to everyone who’s worked it. Crime scene investigators, detectives, everyone involved in this case – many of us are parents, and it’s very difficult to understand how someone could do this to their child, kill their child and bury them and move on with their life as if nothing happened.”

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