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Mom charged with assault after she spanked her 9-year-old with wooden spoon for eating meat mixed with tablets for dog

35-year-old Tania told the court that she panicked and feared that her daughter would get food poisoning. She added that the incident left her very upset

A woman in Perth, Australia, was charged with assault after she beat her daughter with a wooden spoon for digging into some leftover hamburger meat meant for their dog. The 35-year-old Tania said she panicked when she saw her nine-year-old consuming the meat mixed with de-worming tablets.

Tania apparently got terrified and it aggravated the situation, especially with the child having behavioral issues. "I panicked and, out of frustration, having a lot of difficulties with her behavior... I just had a moment of frustration," she said. However, it had its costs. The police came knocking after a couple of days and she was charged with assault. 

The incident, which occurred in October last year, came up for hearing in the Perth magistrate's court on Wednesday, July 3. The court awarded a  $750 fine and a "spent conviction". Even though the events that followed the charges "left her very upset", she said she "wouldn't have done anything differently".

The court found the mother used "unnecessary force" in the strike. The magistrate said, "You struck your nine-year-old with a wooden spoon, and, by your plea, you accept that the force you used was more than necessary to correct her."

"I'm satisfied this is unlikely to happen again," he added. A recklessness charge, which was the second one on the woman, was dropped. Stephen Preece, Tania's lawyer, told the court that his client had no previous criminal record and that her daughter had ongoing behavioral issues, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for which she was under treatment.

In Australia, corporal punishment by a parent or carer is lawful and is not considered child abuse provided it is "reasonable".
However, the consensus as to what constitutes "reasonable" differs between jurisdictions.

In late 2018, a report produced by the American Academy of Paediatrics revealed children who are smacked by their parents are more likely to develop aggressive behaviors and mental health problems. It suggests parents should also avoid "verbal abuse" which could cause "shame or humiliation".

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has also called for Australia to "explicitly prohibit" smacking children in the home.