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Video of Mother Hitting Daughter With Belt Goes Viral in Trinidad & Tobago

A video depicting a mother's idea of ‘discipline’ is spreading like wildfire in Trinidad and Tobago, prompting strong reaction from the blogosphere.

An unidentified mother and her twelve year-old daughter are the subject of the video, which has been posted and reposted on Facebook and other social networking sites. The video shows the mother hitting the child several times with a belt, after the child was alleged to have posted suggestive photographs of herself online. Note: Global Voices has neither linked to nor embedded the original video out of respect for the rights of the child and the laws relating to abuse and domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago.

In a blog post on the issue, Code Red For Gender Justice discussed the concept of old-fashioned West Indian discipline:

I watched my grandmother punch my cousin in the face for breaking eggs on her way back from the shop. My father once ripped a shirt off my teenaged sister. I will not even write what I have seen and heard my neighbour do to his son.

Remembering those occasions in which I experienced or was forced to bear witness to physical and emotional violence is traumatic. Sometimes the very ways in which Caribbean parents seek to demonstrate love, care and guidance are the very ways that will destroy you.

The author continued:

We have to know better so we can do better. We have to unlearn.

But we can’t begin that process of unlearning and re-learning if we are going to get all righteous and pretend like violence is not an everyday, normalised part of life.  The mother who made the video and posted it online knew that her Caribbean viewers would recognise ‘good West Indian discipline’ when they saw it.  She made that video for us, to let us know she is a good mother, a tough mother.  She knows that after what her daughter posted online people would be asking questions about what [kind of mother] raises the…force-ripe 12-year-old that would post risque photos online.

Reaction to the video has ranged from praise for the mother's actions to horror and condemnation:

(“Licks” is a common West Indian term for corporal punishment.)

Other Twitter users were not amused:

My View, a blog by Phillip Alexander, suggested that the end justifies the means, but many Twitter users challenged this kind of thinking:

Many took to Facebook to debate the issue. In the discussion group True Trini Discussing Real Issues, the comments were varied. Vishnu Ramoutar commented:

Painful for the child both physically and mentally. This can affect her for a very long time. Her mother is disgusting. No shame or care for her daughter. Not in public. No way. Zero tolerance for her.

Tara S. Ramlochan had a different view:

Spare the rod and spoil de Chile…suppose she didn't do that and the girl come home wit big belly…fuss ting allyuh go say is upbringing and statutory rape…

In contrast, Code Red highlighted the comment of one mother:

growing up in a caribbean household…i know that the traditional mindset is that this is no big ting. as a mother who has struggled to find alternative ways to discipline and teach my boys other than the belt, i understand the moms (sic) frustration…but the truth is that this is wrong. its (sic) abusive, humiliating and does more harm than good in the long run. the problem is how to change this mindset that is so ingrained in caribbean culture?

The post also examined how discipline has traditionally been addressed in regional societies:

We have experienced violence and are living with that trauma. We have used violence. We have failed to consider other alternatives. We have justified our use of violence. Violence has become a normal and natural response.

In a follow-up entry, the blogger was honest about the feedback she received on her initial post:

One of the key pieces of feedback I received was that I was complicit in the public shaming and violence against the pre-teen girl by sharing the video…and linking to it on the blog. If we wanted to talk about child abuse surely we could do that without exploiting a 12-year-old girl. I agree.

It took me sometime to come to that agreement though. I have witnessed children being beaten daily in school settings. I understood that it was abuse but part of the way that it was normalised in my mind meant that in some ways I had also minimised it. I was wrong.

Another criticism was about shaming readers who expressed disgust at the video:

Someone suggested that by engaging in such shaming I was complicit in normalising violence against children. That I found it difficult to believe that the video literally made some people sick to their stomachs says…that I have experienced violence against children to be a very common feature of everyday life in the Caribbean [and] completely failed to consider that people may witness violence everyday and find it reprehensible, traumatic and stomach-churning.

In another post, Code Red examined the role of new media in the whole equation:

Many people mentioned that a 12-year-old has no right with a facebook account (this violates Facebook’s Terms of Use) and that the mother should have been monitoring her daughter’s internet usage. These harms did not begin with the internet, though they are surely amplified by it.

Changes in technology aside, social media usage has come to mean that you are modern and that you are participating in global culture. Teens don’t want to be left out. Children without regular access to internet or facebook accounts experienced these privations to be a source of embarrassment just as other markers of poverty are. When the kids leave facebook it will be for the next hottest thing, not because parents have managed to push them offline.

We could all do with some media literacy…being a lot more critical about how we engage social media and thinking critically about what it has come to represent.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons to come out of Code Red's online discussion was this realisation:

Sharing the video was a bad judgement call. The video (and articles) reaching so many…was a result of readers liking, commenting, reading and re-sharing. Its popularity was co-constructed. We need to co-construct a media literacy for our times.

The 12-year-old's older sister has since posted a video defending her mother's actions, calling the beating “a last resort” and saying that her motivation was “love”.

40 comments

  • Joyce Scott

    Shame on all the spineless individuals who agree that a mom should humiliate/ harm a young child to prove her point. When adults do wrong deeds, we don’t beaten them up to resolve the problem. So why is it ok for adults to beat up their young. I believe the adult knows children can’t protect themselves or defend themselves from abuse. So they can get away with using their physical strength to take advantage of the weak child. The point that she clearly wants to make is to get the attention of the child’s father. I think this was an act of revenge by this mom using her daughter to get at the father by filming the video. I hope she gets her justice inside jail with some tough hitting cell mate. Maybe then she will truly see how it feels. The video is proof that she should get her rights as a mother taken away. She can thank herself for getting Child Protective Services involved using her pathetic video. I hope she gets a beating of her own.

    • Mark Thompson

      Joy u need help u neither understand nor will see the issue is not the beating of the child but the issue is of her behaviour if u will support this attitude or behaviour in your child thst is u but dont condemned pll who dont agree with ur parenting style as u have no right 2 pass judgement on others life untill u live it

  • Joyce Scott

    I believe this little girl has emotional issues and this public humiliation will further take her down into a darker hole. Research has proven physical abuse will make the person more stubborn and covert in their inappropriate behaviour. Guess what! Her monster mother has now forced her towards a more sinister path.

  • […] Record of Mother Arresting Daughter Including Belt Goes Viral in Trinidad & Tobago on the increase up in a caribbean household…i admit including the intention of the habitual mindset is including the intention of this is no exalted ting. as a mother who has struggled to learn uncommon traditions to restriction and lecture my boys additional than the belt, i know the moms (sic) frustration … Look into extra on Comprehensive Voices Online […]

  • Amanda Tous

    Caribbean women needs to be educated about parenting skills.

    Children need guidance (discipline). It doesn’t mean they need to be hit with a rod. The term “rod” does indeed refer to those used by shepherds, who guided their sheep in the direction they wanted them to go by placing the rod on one side of the sheep & nudging it or pushing it.

    Like sheep, children need guidance (discipline). There are many other passages in the bible advising fathers (parents) to be kind to their children.

    Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
    Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
    This is abusive, humiliating; this Caribbean culture needs to change.

    • Mark Thompson

      U need 2 be quiet u kn nothing about the pll u talking about live the life then comment

      • Amanda Tous

        First of all don’t disrespect me, we are are sharing our views. I am a Caribbean lady, And I have a beautiful 17 yrs old daughter. Your words, ” Don’t talk if you have not live the life”, yes indeed but, can you see it deep within your heart that the child deserved what she got? The bible say, who has no sin cast the first stone. We should teach out children love, and how to respect themselves, their body.
        Why don’t you educate yourself about the developmental stages of childhood before you post your thoughts/ opinion with your broken English. Children need a calm an loving environment, empathetic parents to help them learn. Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his/ her own …
        Discipline that is empathetic, ( by your comment I gather you are not), loving and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child, while harsh or overly-punitive discipline weakens the connection. Remember that the ultimate goal of discipline is to help children develop self-control and self-discipline.

        Don’t contact me again with negative thoughts.

  • Joyce Scott

    Mark! you are straight ignorant! This is a forum to provide our opinion and I did exactly that. So I don’t care if you support my comment. No one here has listened to the little girl’s unconditional/uncontrolled response to her brutal public flogging. We have only heard the monster mom’s one sided obnoxious report of what took place. In any situation there is two sides to a story. Imagine if we only listened to Hitlers reasons for the Holocaust, we would not have the entire story. So until I hear from that young child, I will not just take the mom’s version of events. Even if this child was doing anything inappropriate, it doesn’t give anyone the right to whip her all over her body, face etcetera. This is abusive. Imagine if she had slept with a boy, I suppose the monster mom would have maimed her or killed her but that would be ok. I’m not supporting harming anyone despite the reasons. There are more effective methods. I am a mother of a well behaved 13 year old girl and I don’t abuse her to get her to listen. When you use your brain more than your fist, you get better results as proven by specialists. So don’t step to me if you don’t have any facts or knowledge on the matter. By-the-way, my name is Joyce so learn how to read first and I’m not interested in hearing your unsolicited view of my post.

    • Amanda Tous

      I totally agree with you Joyce. Many different ways to discipline a child. Some quality Mother and daughter time together for a start, show her she can be loved for who she is and maybe she wont seek approval in other ways.
      My heart goes out for this little girl, and the mother should be ashamed for the pain and the abused she has inflicted on this child. I was a problem child growing up, I broke my Mum’s heart a million times but, she never abused me and most of all she never gave up on me. She loved me, she embraced, guide me, and most of all she instil good manners within me, by talking to me, not by beating me. Today, I am a very strong Caribbean parent with high mortals.
      Shame on you individuals who agree with the mother.
      And for those of you hiding behind the bible,
      “Spare the Rod and Spoil the child” Proverbs 13:24
      The rod is not weapon to inflict pain on a child:

      • Joyce Scott

        Thank you Amanda and I could not agree with you more regarding respondents quoting the bible to abuse the child. The bible also speaks of forgiveness and going on to be a good Shepard. Brutalizing children is hardly following Gods word. Those that interpret the bible to abuse their kids are using the Bible to justify their bad parenting skills. I am very upset by this incident for personal reasons. Like you, I am from the Caribbean. I have witnessed parents beat the happiness out of their kids. In the end, the children develop mental illnesses and so on. I can guarantee this child will have further issues and I’m certain this beating was not her first. I will continue to ask my network of friends,family members, community to lobby the Trinidad government to assist this poor girl and other abused children. Maybe you can do the same on your end. Violence of all types must be removed from our society and this begins from home.

  • wootendw

    “…Since the Yankee come to Trinidad
    They got the young girls all goin’ mad
    Young girls say they treat ’em nice
    Make Trinidad like paradise
    Drinkin’ rum and Coca-Cola
    Go down Point Koomahnah
    Both mother and daughter
    Workin’ for the Yankee dollar…” – “Rum and Coca-Cola” as sung by the Andrews Sisters (1944)

  • […] Caribbean’s attitude to children continues to capture the attention of the blogosphere. The blog Code Red has been following stories […]

  • […] قصة تدور حول فيلم فيديو انتشر كالفيروس الاسبوع الماضي لأم تضرب ابنها، شعرت بالحزن. لقد كانت االقصة من أكثر منشوراتنا شعبية […]

  • Mike Doherty

    Where exactly was this woman *before* her daughter posted nude pics online? Putting aside for the moment the fact that this should be a child porn issue, and the fact that this angry woman’s response is clearly abusive, if this poor excuse for a mother had done her job in the first place, her daughter wouldn’t have posted the pics in the first place. The best thing that can happen to this young girl is to get taken out of that house as soon as is humanly possible.

  • […] a video of a mother in the Caribbean twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago beating her 12-year old daughter went […]

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