On 2 June 2022, a Gold Coast woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons pleaded guilty to assaulting her son, after smacking her son on the bottom with a wooden spoon. The 46-year-old woman lost custody of her two children after the incident. The woman avoided having a conviction recorded and was handed a nine-month probation order.
The woman was a single mother and unemployed and ‘snapped’ after her son, who has autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, spent $600 on video games in March. The child subsequently kicked several holes in the wall and child protective services were notified of the incident.
Under section 280 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld), it is lawful for a parent or a person in the place of a parent, or schoolteacher to discipline a child, under the person’s care with such force that is reasonable under the circumstances. The woman confiscated the child’s video game console before smacking the child with a spoon she had retrieved from the kitchen, the smacking caused bruising to the child. In Queensland Parliaments article, Parental Smacking – The Issues and the Law, disciplining a child to the point of bruising or injury was not considered reasonable force.
The Gold Coat Woman was extremely remorseful, and Magistrate Mark Bamberry accepted this was completely out of character for the woman. Magistrate Bamberry also sympathised with the woman’s difficult situation, however, stated society had ‘moved on’ from physically disciplining children. The woman is allowed to see her children under supervised conditions twice a week.