The Texas Supreme Court’s suspension of Aransas County Judge William Adams, the family-law judge whose daughter secretly videotaped him belt-whipping her, suggested to some observers that, even in the socially conservative South, where corporal punishment is seen as important in shaping character, the fine line between discipline and abuse is shifting, says the Christian Science Monitor.
Adams found himself at the center of a national firestorm when his daughter, Hillary, 23, posted a video to YouTube in October that showed him beating her. The incident took place in 2004. Adams maintains he did nothing wrong, and the investigation could exonerate him, but the fact that the Texas court took this step is significant, says David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center. “We’re in a normative shift regarding views on corporal punishment, and what shifts the fastest are views on extremes of what is tolerated,” says Finkelhor. “This video is in the cusp area where there’s a lot of controversy right now.” Socially, the South is more supportive of corporal punishment to discipline a child, laws and studies show.