It’s not easy to be a parent

Elizabeth Bragg, 23 had 5 girls in her care. Her two stepdaughters, and her three nieces. Evidently the 4 year old stepdaughter was in trouble. She was being driven to Ohio so that her father could whip her. 

But she misbehaved again. She fell asleep as often happens when you take young children on a long drive. Of course she had more reason than that for falling asleep. She had been in trouble the night before and her punishment was to stand in the corner, awake all night. And to stay awake on the drive.

For falling asleep in the car, the stepmother had one of the girls to unbuckle the 4 year old’s seatbelt, she told the other girls to hang on, then she accelerated. Then she hit the brakes causing the 4 year old to fall and bruising her leg. There were also other marks on her legs, which may have inflicted by using a belt and a paddle.

When the 4 year old was returned to her mother, that is when the story of the fall in the car came out.

Now I don’t know. Maybe 5 girls was too overwhelming for this 23 year old. Maybe she felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and without any control over the children.

Or maybe she was raised to believe this was normal punishment for 4 year old’s. It isn’t.

Sleep deprivation is a technique often associated with prisoners of war, where the captor’s are trying to break the will of the prisoner. Usually associated with some type of physical torture. Usually adults. She was 4 years old.

By placing the child in the seatbelt in the first place, the stepmother gave some indication that she was aware of the laws re seatbelts and children, and I would presume to believe that she might have some awareness of why those laws exist. In asking a child to release that belt, she involved another child in her plan to break that law, and expose the 4 year old to harm.

By deliberately speeding up and then hitting the brakes, she indicates a plan to cause some harm to the child.

Prosecutor’s dropped the charge of battery for the stepmother, in exchange for a guilty plea to neglect of a dependent. For that plea, she has been sentenced to 3 years in prison and 1 year of probation.

Bragg cried in court. She said she was sorry. She wants to make it up to the girls. But how can she erase that from their minds, their life experience, and their way of looking at the world? Not only the little 4 year old girl, but the 4 child witnesses to the crime? How will their parents explain to them that this was wrong, yet they are not at fault. Not even the little girl that loosened the seatbelt?

I wonder if the abuse made her feel powerful and in control over the children? And I wonder if she still feels in control?

http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/local/13810628.htm

http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/news/local/13812878.htm

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