THE on-going debate of what is and isn’t acceptable when disciplining one’s own child continued in Toowoomba Magistrates Court yesterday during the sentencing of a man who admitted striking his eight-year-old daughter.
The 42-year-old man, who is not named so as to protect the identity of the child, pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault arising from the incident at the family home to Toowoomba’s north in January.
The court heard the girl had been playing up to the point her father threatened to smack her with a belt.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Al Windsor told the court the girl had then told her father that it was “wrong to hit a child”.
Angered by the child’s response, the man then struck his daughter four times across the legs with the belt, Snr Const. Windsor said.
The man had been removed from the family home by the Department of Child Safety after one of a number of relatives staying at the home at the time complained to police about the incident, the court heard.
The defendant’s solicitor Bill Potts said his client had found himself in a difficult situation.
His client had been working two jobs, seven days a week, and working up to 20 hours a day, he said.
He had been “tired and worn down”, he said.
Mr Potts said his client had initially brandished the belt before the child in warning, which had worked in the past.
“Often the threat of chastisement is better than chastisement itself,” he submitted.
However, when the child proved “petulant, defiant and loud”, his client had struck her, an action for which he was not proud, he said.
His client had been removed from the family home after the incident but the family had since reconciled and had moved on, Mr Potts told the court.
The man had since done a parenting course and had learnt a significant lesson, he said.
Magistrate Graham Lee said the community regularly debated domestic discipline and what was and what was not considered reasonable.
He described this case as “difficult” and “unusual”.
However, accepting it was out of character for the defendant, Mr Lee placed the man on an 18-month good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded.