Many people can remember a time when a grandmother or parent hit them with a switch. In fact, some people had to go and pick the switch off the tree (i.e., a tree branch) that was going to be used to punish them and “it had better not” have been small. However, in today’s legal environment, when it comes to disciplining a child with a switch, it can land you in jail. That’s what happened to Norma Jean Toussaint, a 70-year-old grandmother from Hot Springs, Arkansas.
According to police, Toussaint’s 12-year-old granddaughter was refusing to clean up food after eating. Instead of complying with the wishes of her grandmother, she decided to be disrespectful and talk back to the elder. So, Toussaint did like many grandmothers from the Deep South. She went to the backyard and got a switch to physically punish her granddaughter. She went back inside the house and began hitting her granddaughter. That is when the granddaughter decided to “drop a dime” on her grandmother and call 911.
Police responded to the scene and noticed welts and broken skin but the 12-year-old was not bleeding. According to Corporal Kirk Zaner with the Hot Springs Police Department, the alleged use of a switch made it a serious situation. Toussaint was taken into custody and booked on charges of domestic battery in the 2nd degree. A call was placed to the Hot Springs Sheriff’s Office as well as the Hot Springs Police Department by rolling out to find out if Toussaint had bonded out of jail. At the time of publication, no public information officer was available for immediate comment. One anonymous employee, however, when asked about the situation did state that “This was the South” and slightly laughed in disbelief.
In many states, it is legal to use your hand to administer corporal punishment to a child depending on the severity of the punishment issued. However, if a parent or guardian uses an object to strike a minor it can result in serious charges that may include incarceration.