A mother who whipped three of her sons with an electrical cord after they burgled a neighbour's home has received an outpouring of support from both politicians and the public. Schaquana Spears was arrested on child cruelty charges.
The 30-year-old mother of six struck her 13-year-old child with the cord multiple times leaving him with cuts across his body and arms, according to her arrest reports, which said two of her younger sons, aged 10 and 12, were injured as well.
Booked into the parish prison near her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on two counts of cruelty to juveniles, her bond was set at $2,500 – a fee our of reach for the struggling mother.
Speaking after her arrest on 22 June, she told WBRZ news channel that she wanted to stop the boys following the same path as their father who is currently in prison.
"They're just being kids, being followers," Spears said. "I thought I was showing them this is not what you do. You do not steal people's stuff, what they work hard for. I know how that feels, I've had my house broken into."
She added that she had explained to the boys her reasons before dishing out the punishment.
Her neighbour, Alisa Nicholson, whose home was allegedly broken into, also told the station that she felt "so bad" about the arrest because Spears "did what she was supposed to".
After the case garnered attention on social media where many expressed support for the punishment, a local bail bondswoman Winter Applewhite said she felt compelled to help Spears.
"I really think I was supposed to help her," Applewhite told local media. "I wouldn't have been able to sleep. I think she was an awesome mom. I think what she did what was right. Had it been my boys, I would have whipped them as well and whipped them again when I got out."
Local politicians also showed support for her actions with Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican running for a US Senate seat calling it "ludicrous".
In a letter to the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services that Spears should not have been arrested for disciplining her children with corporal punishment.
"In biblical times, sparing the rod led to a spoiled child," he wrote. "In modern times, sparing the rod leads to an imprisoned child."
The state's Attorney General Jeff Landry also announced that the Louisiana Department of Justice would look into the case.
"To be a peaceful and moral society, it is imperative our children learn right from wrong," he said in a statement.
"I am grateful for my loving mother who did not spare the rod to teach this valuable lesson," he added.
However, a spokeswoman for Louisiana's Department of Children and Family Services, said a judge on Monday found it was in the best interest of the 13-year-old boy to be placed in the custody of child services and that he was transferred to the custody of a relative.
In a statement, Marketa Walters, the head of that department, said discipline "crosses into abuse when it leaves a child cut, burned, bloody or bruised". She added: "We're referring to something more than a mere spanking."