Suspended prison sentence for couple who beat 9-year-old child

The limits of the "right of correction" have once again been reviewed by the Saint-Martin Court.

"It could be better… it’s bad… it’s Paul*, sometimes he hits me with his belt when I don’t behave, when I don’t clean my room…” this little boy explained to the gendarmes when they asked him about the family situation in which he lives.   The mother and her new boyfriend, Paul, beat the boy who will celebrate his tenth birthday in September this year.

  "I didn’t want any of that", the mother explained to the criminal court before which the couple appeared on Thursday morning. The child was supposedly beaten on average three times a week.



Cases of domestic violence committed on children are reviewed by the judges on a regular basis.     "According to my children, things are very bad at home… It’s like a house of violence… It’s as if there was no life… It’s as if we never went out of the house", she replied to the judge when he asked her what she felt after having heard the way in which her children spoke about their punishments to the gendarmes.

In this house as in many others, the children are severely beaten when they do not obey. And the parents do not feel that they have crossed the boundary of what the judge calls "the right of correction".      "I didn’t know the law… I have now been informed... The gendarmes explained it to me", she said. "Being beaten kept me from hanging around in the street and smoking marijuana like my girlfriends did", she declared.

Her boyfriend, aged 25, is in the same situation, he was beaten as a child by his "very strict" mother. But before the bar, he acknowledged having crossed the limits. "I asked him (editor’s note: the child) for forgiveness. The next day, I went to the pharmacy to buy some cream to nurse his wounds," he said.



Beyond the effectiveness of the educational method, we must measure the impact of this violence. Because the parents were beaten, they hit just as hard when they are adults. And so forth, from generation to generation. But in the case of this family, the pattern is reproduced as early as childhood.          



The children’s testimony has showed that the violence sometimes went very far. Since the little boy sometimes wet his bed, the boyfriend threatened to "burn his wee-wee" and also "his butt" when one day he had pooped in his underwear. "He came with a match to make him feel the heat on his fingers", his sister said. When they placed the child on his knees so that he wouldn’t cry and disturb the neighbors, they also put bottles of water in his hands.  An act that the mother partly denounced before the bar. 


The Deputy Prosecutor, Michaël Ohayon, asked for a six to eight-month suspended warning sentence with the possibility of applying Articles 378 and 379 of the Civil Code allowing the criminal court to order the withdrawal of parental authority for the mother.

After deliberation, the Court handed down a six-month suspended prison sentence for the mother and an eight-month suspended prison sentence for her boyfriend.


* The name has been changed

Estelle Gasnet