On November 17th my phone rang, and I answered it.
ME: This is Jessica
CALLER: Why do you think you can abuse children?
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 hot sauce 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. All of a sudden the woman who mistakenly tracked me down seemed pretty sane. Images like this provoke a strong response, as well they should.
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 about 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?