Jessica Beagley: Mommy Confessions and Dr. Phil

On November 17th my phone rang, and I answered it.

ME: This is Jessica

CALLER: Why do you think you can abuse children?

ME: What?

CALLER: Were you on the Dr Phil show?

ME: Yes, several times, but I never lay a hand on my children. Who are you.

CALLER: I’m a reporter.

ME: With what outlet?

CALLER: My local news. I want to know why you think it’s okay to put hotsauce in your son’s mouth and make him take cold showers.

ME: Lady, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

And the call went on in a crazy manner for a while longer. She was clearly not a reporter, in fact she was calling from a home phone in New Jersey, and didn’t even bother to block her caller id (*67 anyone?).

I have Dr. Phil on my DVR so I went ahead and took a peek at the show. I felt abused watching it. Apparently one of Jessica Beagle’s six children submitted a video of her “disciplining” her adopted son. From between my fingers I saw her screaming at him, putting hot sauce in his mouth, and forcing him to take cold showers.

It seems that the Jessica on Mommy Confessions is Jessica Beagley of Anchorage, Alaska. My hope is that child protective services has been to the home, and Jessica is getting the help she clearly needs. I’ve seen some LDS websites quoting the New Testament and defending the choices that Jessica and her husband have made.

It is worth noting that Slate magazine has an article about Ice Showers as torture. John Trimble (of Ireland) was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for torturing his elderly parents, in part with cold showers.

But what do you do if you suspect a child is being abused?

I’ve personally never seen anything like this before. Were I to witness in real life what I saw on Dr. Phil, I’d be calling 9-1-1. If they weren’t alarmed I’d hang up and call again, and again, and again until someone took me seriously.

I’m curious what you would do if you saw this?

What would you do if a child came to your house and told you this is how they are disciplined?

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Comments 30

  1. I would call and call like you.
    My profession puts me in a position of being a mandated reporter. The foster care license I still possess that gave me the opportunity to adopt my son also makes me a mandated reporter. My history as a victim calls me to be a mandated reporter. My conscience demands that I report.
    I have reported in the past. Once, just once I was wrong. I felt horrible about being wrong but if I were to do it over again I would have still reported. What compels me is the fact that too many times I reached out to adults around me for help for me and for my siblings but to no avail.
    I written about this a little this weekend in response to the little Facebook meme.
    http://adventuresinjuggling.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/when-cartoons-save-children/
    I’m sorry that you were subjected to such insanity but I am grateful for this post that has come from it.

  2. I am very cautious about this. I know two families who were reported by angry neighbors. And each went through hell clearing their names. That is not to say that we cannot or should not report, but we still need to be careful.

    Anonymous whistle blowing is important and I would never get rid of it, but….

    1. I totally agree with you, but you also have such dirty social workers, they have put me through hell for no good reason for the same reasons as you stated above, mad neighbors, or mad women, its a shame that you do everything in your power to straighten up for your kids but they are so dirty, that they just want to remove them at all cost never considering the costs to the child, the pain, the change that takes place in the to be removed over something that they shouldn’t have been removed for, I had to literally move, but where I moved to is great, they dont charge to screen they come in with screen in hand, totally clean, and it was a social worker that sent them on me, after I leave repeated voice mails telling him we have to move, he states to them that I moved with a open case, so glad I recorded all those voice mails to him, thanks rocky for advice!!! These ladies did their job, we both tested spotless, right here in our home with no way of knowing they were coming, they closed the case after ky had kept it open for over a year, wouldnt test me, with me calling asking them to test me, no it has to be random miss Jordan!!! then when he got called up before his supervisors, he blamed me said I didn’t have the money, what a crock of u know what, I told him everytime that I would get it no matter what test me anytime, but because he wasn’t doing his job he laid it on me, which caused his supervisors to put me in somekind of low income program that just drug my case out even longer 5 weeks to be exact!! So much for calling and telling him to screen me anytime, that money was no problem, if your going to be a social worker at least be an honest one, I know you guys are needed, but don’t lie to take children from their parents, and definately don’t lie to cover your ass for not doing your job, have the ethics to do your job or find another one, dont talk all sweet while you are plotting behind my back, social workers should be professional like the ones in Va, do your job, test in a timely manner, if you dont and get questioned by your supervisors, be honest, tell them I was to busy, I will get right on that sir or ma’am!!! we need you guys to protect the abused children not the happy, have everything, children, unless you want to start taking them from us for spoiling them rotten, then come and take mine, cause I am most certainly guilty of that, they are so sweet and spoiled, I give them the best of the best!!!!

      1. I totally agree with you, but I will have to say that in this case a social worker needs to be brought into it because what this poor child is having to go through who knows how many times a week or even a day. I mean can you imagine the psychological damage this woman has put and is continuing to put in this childs head. It hurts my heart to even believe this is happening and that it was shown on TV. This woman is a MONSTER and I understand not all the ppl that social services go after deserve it I have a friend who hasnt seen her kids in almost 4 yrs because of them but kids deserve to be with someone that is going to be loving to them not torture them and humilate them and that womans daughter I gaurantee will have some sort of mental problems because of her mother because she forces her daughter to video tape this. MY HEART BREAKS FOR THAT LITTLE BOY!!!! no matter what a child does it doesnt deserve this sort of torture…(PUNISHMENT)

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  4. When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I was next door playing with some neighbor girls when suddenly, I heard their dad screaming at their little brother. I turned around just in time to see the father bringing his fist down on the little boy’s back. Hard. He did it again and again, while the boy screamed, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” The kids’ mom finally calmly shooed us outside to “play.” But I was too shaken by the incident, and I went home.

    A few weeks later, the same little boy came busting through our kitchen door unexpectedly, and hid under our dining room table. He was terrified; shaking, crying, wild-eyed. My mom tried to coax him out, but nothing she said would calm him. His mother finally came for him and tried to laugh it off as “boys and their dads… what are you gonna do?!” The boy begged my mom to let him stay, but obviously she had no say in the matter. The next day, I told the principle of my school, knowing that she was required to report it. CPS came to their door the next week, and kept checking up on them periodically. I wasn’t allowed to play with my friends anymore (their parents called me a “troublemaker”), but even then I felt like it was worth it.

    So, to make a long story short, I’d report it. In a hot second.

  5. Yikes! That’s such a horrible thing that mom was doing to her kid – and it’s also horrible (although not in the same way) that someone thought it was you.

    And Emily – you must have been an amazing child. That would have thoroughly terrified me.

    What would I do? I’d call 911 also, but Jack’s point does worry me. I would have to feel sure.

  6. I don’t like confronting adults over things like this…I worry it will be made worse, or they may try and retaliate against me (or my children!).

    My first call would be to social services. And I have made those calls before.

    I took my daughter to the ER a few months ago for an accident…and had to have a few followups with social services. It didn’t help that I am a military spouse with a deployed husband – around here, that’s an automatic label of “crazy chick, probably drinks herself into a stupor & hits her kids”. I was pretty peeved. I worried their checking up on me took resources from families that may actually have a need for a social worker. But I figured at the very least…If I were hurting my kid…at least someone was looking out for her.

  7. I can sympathize with being at your wits end. However isn’t that when you call a professional? Not Dr Phil? You think the kid has RAD… well… seek professional help for him… have him evaluated… several times over if necessary. Get him into therapy. Get yourself into therapy. Look for a support group. Don’t put yourself on the airwaves.

    1. I am a mother of 6 children. I have an 11 yr old boy, 8 yr old daughter, 7 yr old daughter, 3 yr old daughter, 2 yr old boy and a 7 month old baby boy. Do you know how many times I have been at WITS end but guess what I have NEVER EVER treated my children like this I have never tortured my children like this and there is absolutely no reason or excuse for anyone to treat any child like this.

  8. Having been the child in an abusive relationship, I will say that there is not an easy solution. I would have LOVED for somebody to make the call… but I wouldn’t have been able to TELL anybody that for fear of reprisal. And again, I would have thought it was my fault that the call was made and that parents getting into trouble? My fault…. and there is no question in my mind that they’d have fostered that. Oh, and if help isn’t offered… what happens then? Things get worse.

    In my case, there is no acknowledgement and will never be, of said abuse by them. Do they think what they did was wrong? Not at this point. Abusers rarely do.

    That’s why my heart hurts for that little boy. Because no matter that you’re at your wits end (and I understand THAT), he is a child. And there’s no reason for a child to be treated like that. Ever.

  9. I can’t stop crying. I have to go pick the four year old up from school, and I think we might have to go have the BEST DAY EVER to somehow counteract what I just saw. Horrifying.

  10. I’ve been the child in that situation.

    I wish so hard someone had made that call for me. My younger sibling died from the abuse and neglect, and I have wounds on my back that will never leave me. My parents liked to force us to take cold showers, too. They did it to humiliate us by making us strip, and then when the ice cold water soaks you, it hurts. Then you have to answer questions while mom or dad is screaming at you. My parents started using sticks and cords to beat us with.

    My experiences have left me crippled for life. I wish someone had made that call and saved us from that hell.

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      1. OMG I am so sorry for you sibling and for your pain. God is with you and will make you strong. After seeing the show I want to do something also but I dont know what I can do from NY. DOES ANYONE KNOW?

    2. I hear your pain. Been there. I have spent many years troubled over my abuse, I refuse to let it control my life any longer. Sorry that happened to you Anonymous. I hope this lady gets what she deserves and does some time. Some people do not need kids and dont need to adopt kids. She should be ashamed of herself and I would drop the ball in a heart beat. I have a few things I would like to do to her myself.

    3. I am so sorry you went through that.  You did not deserve it.  I hope you have gotten help.  Your parents needed to serve some time in jail.  God bless you.

  11. Jessica,

    I’m sad to see you tag this as “LDS”, because while you may have found some so-called “LDS websites” that condoned Jessica’s clearly cruel behavior, I know this is not the official position of the church, nor most of its members. There are plenty of parents with other religious views who abuse their children, as well as plenty of atheists. In my opinion, Jessica’s religion had very little to do with the way she treated her children, though she may hide behind that to try and exucse her cruelty.

    I also wanted to say that I think we should all be more than happy to welcome CPS into our homes. Let them see how we are providing our children with love, kindness, education, proper care and nurturing. What is their alternative? To ignore a potentially harmful situation and leave abused children unprotected? They can’t know that the accusations that come to them are unfounded until they’ve investigated so let them investigate and don’t take it personally. CPS has an extremely difficult job and most of them simply doing their very best to advocate for children who can’t advocate for themselves.

  12. What bothers me the most is how really cold and controlled this woman was. She repeated herself over and over as she berated the child because she loved to hear herself. She was on a complete power trip. And she had no empathy for the pain she was putting the child through. What she did to the little boy is forms of torture, and the PTSD he is going to suffer because of what she did will be great no doubt.

    The cold shower had to have been painful! Cold water in Alaska is ICE COLD. It’s excrutiating and I hate that woman for somewhere in her sick sadistic mind thinking it’s ok to put anyone, let alone a child, through that. The fact that she sent a videotape to Dr. Phil exposing herself but at the same time feeling no shame, shows that she has a very sociopathic personality.

    PLEASE PLEASE someone tell me that woman has been charged with child abuse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I totally agree.  She behaved in such a cruel and sadistic way, it is just unbelievable.  Makes me wonder what she does when there is no camera.  A really sick woman who shouldn’t be having kids.

  13. I have a son and never would I imagine such punishments. Watching the video it sounds like she was looking for a dog not a child. if he’s suck a stress she should relieve him to someone else so both can be happier. And when children are upset they give mean looks it’s not a look of oh you can do better that’s oh snap I got caught. This makes me want to being my kid to chuck s cheese I would never want to hear mine scream like that yet she said she wants more of a reaction…. That poor boy

    1. I have not watched the video but as a mother of two children with Reactive Attachment Disorder(RAD) I can’t help but to feel for Jessica and her son. Our two children were three and four when they came to live with us and we did not know that they had RAD. It has now been four years now and things are getting better but we still often feel like we are living in a war zone and it has taken years to get the support we needed. We also live in Alaska so I can relate to Jessica’s lack of specialized support. Even though we had mental health professionals in our lives almost from the start of when  our kids came to live with us it was not until a year ago did we actually get anyone on our kids’s team with experience with RAD. We had to fight to keep our seven year old daughter from being sent to a residential treatment center and to get a specialist for Washington state to join our team. Even after we got this help and started the exhausting and time consuming therepy staratagies we found a lack of understading from other parents, mental health professionals and school personal. We also had a Report of Harm filed against us with child protection services and were traumatized ourselves by this experience even though we were “cleared”.  We are the parents of four children and it is the hardest thing I have ever engaged in, trying to parent our two children with RAD.  
      I do not support what Jessica did but as a parent who loves and tries to parent a children  with RAD I can feel for her and hope that she and her family get the help and support they need.

  14. They say people in Alaska suffer from mental disorders because they seldom have sun.
    I really hope DCF has protected these children and removed them from that household. The other six children are probably as sadistic just to survive!

  15. I find other peoples angry and rage towards this woman more upsetting than anything. I can’t believe how many people have never met this women or her family and have chosen to judge her on a moment that even she herself says is low.

    I feel bad that she is having no success and feels helpless in trying to raise her child to make good choices and be obedient. Its not like she likes this or just started hot saucing her kids when they were 2 months old. She has tried time outs, talks, grounding, and more… this is where she has gotten to because she has had no success. She doesn’t like what she is having to do and she is now asking for help… and instead she has gotten law enforcement, hate, threats.

    It has been a year since this and I have actually met her a few months ago and know her family a little. She have gone through hell… everyone has received threats, they have to hide where they live… even their children can’t know their own house number because of people physically threatening them, following them, and sending things to their house. I am completely serious.

    So people please stop judging and hating people even if you think you have a right… nothing comes good of hate. These kids have been more scared and harmed by other people saying their outrage than from their parents.

  16. I would bet this isn’t her at her worst.  We should be judging her, my God if we don’t this poor child will be ruined for life.  Her behavior is sadistic and absolutely criminal.  This child and his brother deserve better and her own children are being abused for having to be around and witnessing this.  I cannot believe anyone in their right mind could watch this and not be horrified.

  17. Although I do not approve Jessica’s discipline tactics, I actually feel for her! She has a heart to adopt the child but got lost on the way, with no help. The kid needs to know what is right and what is wrong and how do you people expect her to do it when a child tries to push the boundaries so hard that it wrecks his mother’s nerve system! Yes, this woman needs help but she does all that with good intentions, she might be choosing wrong techniques but at least she does not ignore her kid’s bad behaviour and tries her bes, she wants her kid to learn to do the right choices in life…

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