By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
The city of Baltimore has been in an uproar over the homicide of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a lethal spinal cord injury while in police custody. In the wake of the homicide and its consequent protests, a video has gone viral that shows Toya Graham, mother of 16-year-old Michael Graham, physically attacking her child for participating in a street protest. The video spurred the hashtag #MomOfTheYear on social media, with many praising Toya’s violence against her son as proper “discipline.” For her part, Toya says she simply was terrified her son would become another Freddie Gray by participating in the protests, and acted out of desperation. “That’s my only son,” Toya explained, “at the end of the day I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,”
You can view the video in full here:
While Toya’s sentiment is understandable (and the fact that she felt she had to act this way just to save her child’s life a tragic reminder of the reality of white supremacy), her actions are nonetheless disturbing. In the video, Toya screams obscenities at her child (such as “get the f*** over here”) while repeatedly striking him in the face with her fist, violently shaking him, grabbing his neck, and shoving him. As Kathleen Harter, executive director of the Consortium for Children’s Services in Syracuse, says, “It sends a terrible message. The ‘Mom of the Year’ beats her child? I don’t think so. Had she thrown herself into a burning building or thrown herself in front of police bullets and saved her son’s life — maybe. But she’s not ‘Mom of the Year’ because she kicked his a**.”
The fact is, Michael is a minor and Toya slapped, shook, grabbed, and shoved him. Which means that Toya physically abused her child. Toya’s actions, however understandable or relatable, fit clearly and unequivocally under the definition of physical child abuse. The American Humane Association defines physical child abuse as “non-accidental trauma or physical injury caused by punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise harming a child,” even if it “results from inappropriate or excessive physical discipline” or is provoked by “crisis situations.”
What Toya did is illegal. It is child abuse.
But that didn’t stop HSLDA’s satellite organization ParentalRights.org from lauding Toya for abusing her child. (HSLDA founded ParentalRights.org in 2007.) On April 29, ParentalRights.org shared an article on their Facebook page titled “‘Mom of the Year’ Baltimore mother praised for smacking rioting son” (Facebook link here, archived PDF here). The organization added their own text, “Parents: The ultimate crime deterrent. #baltimoremom”:
Tracy Klicka MacKillop, wife of the late HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka, chimed in with praise for Toya assaulting her son, saying she was “so proud” of Toya’s actions:
Almost immediately people began questioning both the wisdom and rightness of ParentalRights.org and Tracy Klicka MacKillop so blatantly praising an act of child abuse:
People pointed out the hypocrisy of praising Toya assaulting her son if they would not praise a father similarly assaulting his daughter:
However, defenders of ParentalRights.org were not to be deterred. They argued that black boys like Michael are “animals” that need to be trained:
Or they just admitted they would be ok if a father similarly assaulted his daughter and that a father “wailing on” his daughters was parenting, not abuse:
Tracy Klicka MacKillop did not back down, arguing that the child abuse was a “courageous” reaction:
ParentalRights.org, for their part, also did not back down. They responded that Toya’s assault of her child is evidence that she is a “good mom”:
So there you have it. HSLDA’s ParentalRights.org believes that the physical abuse and assault of a black child is evidence of good parenting.
Libby Anne, The Real Travesty of the “Hero Mom” Story
I think it’s better she got her hands on him before he got it from the riot police. If he had actually been throwing rocks at officers and it escalated, his mother wouldn’t have been able to save him. He’s 17 years old, angry, and most likely looking for a fight since he was rioting. He just didn’t expect to get into a fight with his mom. I wouldn’t accuse her of child abuse until I knew for certain what went on at home. Here I see a mother panicking and angry that her son is rioting instead of focusing on being a teenager or school. There were peaceful protesters in Baltimore he could have chosen to join instead of rioting, his mother was appalled at his terrible choice. I don’t blame nor condemn her for her reaction.
There was another story recently from Ohio where a mother called the police on her son and had him “arrested” because he would not behave in class. Not only did she “prank” him, but she took a video the entire time, laughing at his terror, and then posted it to social media where everyone would be able to shame him along with her.
This is “great parent” these days, people. Children have no rights and parents are praised for going to just about any lengths to get them to “obey.”
Just remember. HSLDA is not political. 😛