An Anchorage mother, Jessica Beagley, is reaping some strong criticism after she appeared on Dr. Phil's "Mommy Confessions" segment on November 17th and revealed that she used "hot sauce" and "cold showers" as disciplinary techniques to deal with one of her six children who displayed persistent behavioral problems and who lies when confronted. Much of the criticism is highly judgmental. A full summary of this story, combining information gathered from a number of pertinent links, is posted on Mormonism-Unveiled.
Primary media story published by the Anchorage Press; supplemental story in the Anchorage Daily News. Additional sources of information include the Recovery from Mormonism (RFM) forum and Free Republic.
Summary: Jessica and Gary Beagley, identified as observant members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, live in Anchorage, Alaska and have six children. Three of them are Russian adoptees, two of them twins. One of the twins, seven-year-old Kristoff, has persistently caused disciplinary problems and won't own up to misdeeds when confronted. To cope, Jessica Beagley has Kristoff drink hot sauce whenever he lies. He's not forced to swallow it; he's allowed to spit it out after Jessica finishes reproving him. In addition, Jessica will also administer cold showers to Kristoff as an additional disciplinary tool, which I would agree is excessive.
One of her six children filmed one of the disciplinary sessions. It ended up being shown on Dr. Phil's program on November 17th. You can view the video from Dr. Phil HERE, and read the transcript HERE. However, we also have a YouTube video, embedded below:
You can see that while Jessica does administer the hot sauce and cold shower treatments, she never loses control of herself during the encounter. She is assertive, but not aggressive. Thus I would characterize her as more of a disciplinarian rather than an abuser. The provocation was legitimate; Kristoff had received three discipline cards in elementary school for throwing pencils, sword-fighting with another child, and acting out in another class, and then lied to Jessica about the in-school discipline.
To determine how this should be best handled, first we must strip the story down to the most pertinent facts:
-- Jessica Beagley has had problems with only one of her six children. There are No documented problems with the other children.
-- Jessica Beagley has been authoritative, but I don't sense an abusive spirit.
-- The Beagleys are devout members of the LDS Church, most likely possessing a temple recommend. A recommend is considered spiritually vital by devout Mormons.
Consequently, the best solution not only considers the most pertinent facts, but effectively balances the concerns of the children, the parents, the state, and the church:
-- While no criminal charges are warranted, the Office of Children's Services should consider removing Kristoff from the home until the parents successfully complete a professional course on child rearing/anger management, and then satisfactorily complete a follow-on probation period to show they've mastered the lessons learned. OCS does not need to remove the other children at this time.
-- The local unit of the LDS Church needs to get involved. While neither disfellowshipment nor excommunication are warranted, I believe it would be appropriate for their bishop to consider revoking their temple recommend until they show an improved ability to cope with the challenges of raising Kristoff. The loss of a temple recommend does create a perceptible sense of deprivation in a devout Mormon, and can be a powerful motivator towards improved behavior. Members of the LDS Church can get help with family issues through LDS Family Services; specific help with adopted children available HERE.
Unfortunately, many people prefer vengeance to justice. The Beagley family had a blog, but they found it necessary to "privatize" it because they got spammed with online vigilantes leaving abusive comments. One poster on Free Republic documented some of the comments:
Molly Mormon said...
From one mormon mom to another——I was disgusted by your appearance on Dr. Phil. The state should take your children away and you should be excommunicated. The hot sauce was over the line. You are abusing children who as Russian orphans, are the most vulnerable among us and to think they want to spend eternity with you is a joke.
November 23, 2010 7:04 AM
You are not a mother. You are a monster and do not deserve to have these “sweet spirits” in you home. Dr. Phil cannot help you. You need to be jailed and these children taken to loving homes. May you burn in hell or wherever you religion sends monsters like you.
November 23, 2010 7:58 AM
You are sick twisted people. Forever Families? So you can abuse them forever? You don’t deserve to have children. Hope the state takes them away. You are animals thinking you’re so righteous because you have a temple recommend. You are pigs. That boy will grow up some day and kill you in your sleep.
November 23, 2010 1:05 PM
Saw your Dr. Phil episode. I hope your kids are taken away from you. You are a complete MONSTER. Pouring hotsauce in your child’s mouth? Forcing them to take freezing cold showers? WHAT IN HEAVENLY FATHER’S NAME IS WRONG WITH YOU?????
I have two adoptive children with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder. I DO know how hard it is, but that is NEVER an excuse to abuse a child. How dare you post blogs pretending to be some wonderful, caring mother when you ABUSE YOUR CHILDREN???
Thousands of sweet and loving LDS couples are dying to adopt so they can have a forever family and cannot. Yet you get a chance to have a big family with beautiful children and you SQUANDER it! I hope your recommend is YANKED out from under you because you have NO BUSINESS in such a wonderful place and you have NO RIGHT to be sealed to these kids.
November 23, 2010 2:57 PM
Much of this is hysterical nonsense. Jessica Beagley is NOT a "monster"; she's a concerned mother who is in greater need of help than judgment. I'm also disturbed that a number of self-identified Mormons have posted these type of comments. We must remember D&C 121:43; "Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy". Note that the period in the sentence goes after the word "enemy", NOT after the word "sharpness".
Let us leave judgment unto those to whom it's appointed.