Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Search for legal issues
For help near (city, ZIP code or county)
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location

'Hot Sauce Mom' Charged with Child Abuse

Article Placeholder Image
By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 02, 2011 6:11 AM

When does parental discipline cross the line and become child abuse? Jessica Beagley, dubbed the 'Hot Sauce Mom,' is about to find out.

Fed up and frustrated with her son's misbehavior, the Anchorage mother of six turned to slightly unconventional methods of punishment: cold showers and hot sauce. Yes, hot sauce. Replacing the soap of days yore, some parents have begun placing drops of hot sauce on their children's tongues as punishment.

The case of the "Hot Sauce Mom" came to light after Beagley sent a videotape of her disciplining the boy (recorded by her daughter, by the way) to the Dr. Phil show. Court documents describe the video as showing Jessica Beagley "forcing (the boy) to swish hot sauce in this mouth while yelling in his face and then forcing him to stand confined in a cold shower while she yelled at him," reports Reuters.

Upon seeing the video, local prosecutors filed misdemeanor child abuse charges, citing that cold showers and hot sauce are unreasonable methods of punishment.

State laws regarding what constitutes child abuse are fairly standard, often carving out exceptions for religion and corporal punishment. They, however, don't provide much of an explanation of what is and is not child abuse. Municipalities tend to regulate child abuse with more specificity, making local laws the most important factor in how you decide to discipline your children. More often than not, the law considers whether or not the action is reasonable.

In the case of Jessica Beagley, local law further expanded on the idea of reasonableness, reports AP, citing "scalding, branding and burning of a child" as unreasonable parental discipline. Apparently a drop of Tapatío is akin to taking a match to the tongue.

Reasonableness is obviously up for discussion, but it would probably be wise to use a little common sense when disciplining children: don't record it for YouTube, Dr. Phil or any other talk show. 

Related Resources:

Find a Lawyer

More Options