Spanking is indeed controversial, but there's no way to view the following spanking story as anything but awful and extremely bizarre. You might want to sit down for this one. According to various media reports, a man allegedly spanked a stranger's toddler in a grocery store and has since been arrested.
The strange and scary incident reportedly took place in a Kroger grocery store in Newnan, Georgia, according to local news station 11 Alive, when Logan Morris was shopping with his 2-year-old son. They'd reportedly gotten into the checkout line when his son asked for candy, and Morris said it was too late. Then, as Morris told the outlet, a strange man in the line behind them grabbed his son and spanked him three times, allegedly saying, "That's how we deal with kids in Mexico."
Morris told 11 Alive, "I didn't know what to think. I was blown away by the situation." So, he told the news station, he left the store, and called the police, who reportedly took the man, 62-year-old Juan Guvarra Martinez, into custody, according to the Associated Press.
Kroger did not immediately respond to Romper's request for comment, while the Newnan Police Department said that they had no additional comments or updates on the alleged incident at this time.
Whew. Sure, when you see a kid acting up in public, it's tempting to think that you could handle the situation better. And pretty much every parent out there will tell you that they've experienced some kind of judgement about their parenting styles from strangers. But it's one thing for a stranger to roll their eyes when your kid starts throwing a temper tantrum, and to maybe toss out a "Well, if that were my child, I'd [insert annoying advice here]." It's a whole new ballgame for that stranger to take your child's discipline into their own hands, literally, with some unsolicited spanking.
After reportedly banning Martinez from stores, Kroger issued the following statement to WSB-TV Channel 2:
We are taking this matter very seriously, as providing a safe place for customers to shop is our first and foremost priority at Kroger. We do not tolerate this type of behavior in our stores or on our property. As such, we appreciate our associate’s quick action in reporting the incident and contacting authorities. We are working closely with local authorities and will assist in any way we can to support their investigation.
WSB-TV Channel 2 also reported that Martinez allegedly appeared to be drunk at the time of the arrest, and that he'd previously been booked into jail 50 times over the last 10 years, largely for public drunkenness offenses. So, perhaps a silver lining here is that this is clearly a case of one drunk man overstepping, rather than a new trend of people deciding to discipline random children.
Still, it's worth having a larger conversation about spanking itself. According to Scientific American, nearly half of American parents have spanked their children to punish them. However, an evaluation of 75 studies on spanking, conducted by researchers at University of Michigan and University of Texas at Austin, showed that the practice did tend to have negative effects on children, and was linked to "increased aggression and behavioral and mental health problems as well as reduced cognitive ability and self-esteem." There are plenty of other ways to discipline children that have not proven so controversial, like putting a child into time-out.
The decision whether or not to spank a child is one that a parent should consider carefully. And it's definitely not a decision that should be taken out of a parent's hands by a random drunk stranger at a supermarket.
Thankfully, Morris told Channel 2 that his son wasn't hurt by the random spanking, just confused. I feel you there, kid. I'm extremely confused too.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.