A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, mother was arrested on June 21 for allegedly beating her three sons after they broke into a local residence.
Schaquana Evita Spears was arrested and charged with child cruelty for the alleged beating, though the charges were quickly criticized nationwide and questioned by the local district attorney.
Lisa Nicholson, the 45-year-old neighbor whose house Spears’ sons reportedly broke into, said the 30-year-old mother should be commended for disciplining her children rather than arrested.
"If it was me," she told The Advocate, "I’m gonna beat you before I let the cops kill you. I’m gonna do what I have to do. I’m not gonna let [my children] steal and kill and do all of that. I’m not gonna let them fall victim to the streets."
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Spears, a cook and owner of a catering company, reportedly admitted to hitting her 10, 12 and 13-year-old sons after she caught them breaking into Nicholson’s house on June 17. The 13-year-old son told authorities that his mother struck him several times with a cable — causing lacerations to his arms and marks on his legs.
Hillar C. Moore III, the district attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish, released a statement about the incident after Spears was arrested, according to WBRZ:
Parents have the right and obligation to discipline and teach their children. We often time see children who have no parental authority or discipline which eventually results in delinquency and criminal acts. We need more parents who discipline their children. Surely you would expect a parent to discipline a child who is burglarizing other people’s homes as this could be a deadly encounter for the child.
The degree of physical discipline will be reviewed. The law does not allow excessive pain or cruelty but does allow physical parental discipline. I only have the short synopsis which does indicate that the discipline resulted in marks on the child’s body and possibly an open wound. I will review all of the reports; meet with the DCFS office and review any history of this mother and her children to get a better picture of the entire family dynamics before making a decision. In the meantime my office is working with the juvenile court to ensure the speedy release of the mother under conditions satisfactory to the court.
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Spears was later bonded out of jail by someone who saw her story on the local news. She spoke to WBRZ upon her release.
"They're just being kids, being followers," she said. "I thought I was showing them this is not what you do. You do not steal people's stuff, what they work hard for. I know how that feels, I've had my house broken into."