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Experts: Dr. Phil's 'hot sauce mom' mixed punishment and torture

Jessica Beagley, the mother of six who was seen punishing her 7-year-old son with hot sauce and cold showers in a video that aired on the “Dr. Phil” show, actually tortured her child according to experts.

On Friday, an Anchorage, Alaska court charged Beagley with misdemeanor child abuse stemming from the actions showcased during her November appearance on “Dr. Phil." Psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor feels there’s no doubt about the mom’s guilt.

“Well, I think, clearly, it’s abuse,” Taylor explained on the TODAY show Tuesday morning. “I mean, abuse is not just leaving a mark. Certainly it’s emotional abuse, it’s neglect and all of that counts. The fact is we have to distinguish between discipline and punishment. This was punishment and torture.”

Dr. Alanna Levine, pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, agreed, calling Beagley’s actions a “black and white” case of abuse.

“This is completely inappropriate,” Levine told TODAY host Matt Lauer. “It’s terrible for the child being punished and for the other children in the home as well, who are witnessing.”

One child who definitely witnessed Beagley’s extreme methods was the 10-year-old daughter she tasked with filming the disturbing clips later shown on TV. Both Taylor and Levine pointed out that the problem with Beagley’s extreme approach to punishment is that it’s not only inappropriate for all children involved, it’s also ineffective.

“You don’t want to scare your children into listening to you,” Levine said. “You want them to listen to you because they respect you. And they’ll respect you if you mean what you say. You just have to be consistent with very small, repeatable consequences — taking away television, cancel a play date — things that don’t enforce harm on a child.”

Otherwise, as Taylor added, “the child’s not learning a lesson. They’re terrified.”

The wife of an Anchorage police officer has been charged with child abuse after being taped making her young son swallow hot sauce as punishment for misbehaving. This has started a debate over what is appropriate discipline.


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