Court Should Show Mother The Same Mercy She Showed Her Child

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Madelyne Gorman Toogood, the Indiana woman filmed beating her 4-year-old daughter in a parking lot, has turned herself in and her attorneys say she will probably plead guilty and "throw herself on the mercy of the court."

No one is less deserving of mercy than someone who beats a defenseless child.

She said she is sorry, she was having a bad day. She was angry, she said, because she was refused a cash refund for a pair of jeans by a department store.

We agree. She is sorry a sorry excuse for a parent, a sorry excuse for a human being.

One of her attorneys said the woman beat the child because the little girl had misbehaved in the store.

Misbehaved? If an adult can do that to a child because of misbehavior, the courts should hand down an equally severe punishment to the adult for the misbehavior of beating a child, not to mention the misbehavior of shoplifting and failing a traffic ticket. Toogood has two warrants, one for failing to pay a fine for driving without a license and the other for failing to appear in court on a shoplifting charge.

Another "excuse" being tossed around is the possible affiliation of Toogood with an Irish Traveler group. So? No affiliation, no cultural or religious belief should be considered a mitigating factor when sentencing someone for the abuse of a child.

Yet Toogood was released from custody on just $5,000 bond and faces only a maximum sentence of three years in prison for assaulting a 4-year-old child who trusted and depended on her.

Generally, sentencing for people who abuse children seems less than appropriate. For years, the prevailing mantra in social services has been "the family comes first." Meaning, at just about all costs, the goal is to keep families together.

It is most likely the real reason that an Arizona infant was left in the care of her crack-smoking mother and grandmother until her death, not the standard Child Protective Services response of being understaffed.

Yes, services like CPS are understaffed, but maybe that is because the bureaucratic red tape ties up so many good intentions. The people who could make a difference in the lives of helpless, victimized children give up in disgust after years of banging their heads against a wall of wrong-headed thinking. The statistics of repeated child abuse and deaths of children at the hands of a parent or a parent's significant other apparently are not proof enough that the cost of keeping families together is too great.

Earlier this week, Toogood told CNN, "People might think I'm a monster, but I've been a mother for six years, and no harm has come to my children before this, never. I'm sorry. That's all I can say."

People are right; she is a monster. And the law should treat her as such.

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