Family asserts that man in jail for spanking child wasn’t abusing him

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PLATTE CITY, Mo. – A Platte City man is behind bars after he admitted to spanking his son, the police are calling it abuse. The boy is 11 years old and his father has been charged with child abuse.

We're not identifying the father, because that would identify the child, and it's FOX 4’s policy to not identify minors, especially crime victims. But the father's family told FOX 4 that this was not abuse.

According to court documents, on Monday morning, the 11-year-old told a counselor at Paxton Elementary that he couldn't sit down because his bottom was sore. He said his father spanked him Sunday because he went to Sonic without permission.

He showed the counselor a picture on his cell phone. It showed bruises on his backside and, according to court papers, you could make out individual finger marks. The school counselor called police.

Jeanette Issa with the Child Abuse Prevention Association, or CAPA, said reporting this to police was the right thing to do.

“Spanking is not illegal. You can spank a child but the difference between spanking and abuse is spanking is minor, transient pain momentarily. Abuse goes into long-term, physical bruising marks, patterns of bruising,” Issa said.

The child told police his father grabbed him by his throat and threw him on the bed and then spanked him more than 30 times. During the police interview, the father said it was "shocking" that the spanking had left marks on the child.

He told police he didn't think he was angry when he spanked his son, it lasted only a few seconds and that he spanked him maybe 15 times. He also said he didn't think it was abuse unless the child was hospitalized.

“We talk about time out with children but we really need parents to take time out and if they choose to physically punish they need to be calm and rational,” Issa said.

When Issa looked through the court papers, she was struck by the child's comment that he was afraid of his father.

“If you get hit on a regular basis, you can be afraid of your parents. Do you want your kids to be afraid of you? I want my kids to love me,” Issa said.

FOX 4 spoke to some of the father's family members on Wednesday; they said all this is being blown out of proportion. The family is stunned about the $30,000 bond for the father. They said he's not an abuser; he was only disciplining his son. He'll be in court again next Tuesday.

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