Sitting In Jail For Spanking


By Vin Suprynowicz


Suzanne Shell, director of the American Family Advocacy Center in Colorado Springs, writes: “I’m working on a Wisconsin case where the mother now sits in jail . . . She was charged with a felony for spanking her 10-year-old son on the bare bottom with her non-dominant hand.”

Kay M. Henson, 31, a mother of six from Sharon, Wis., pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “simply battery” after “admitted spanking her son 15 times, but she also tried grounding him, using timeouts and ordering him to do extra chores as forms of discipline, but nothing worked,” The Associated Press reported August 18, 2001.

“I spanked him on the bare butt with my hand,” said Henson, who weighs 110 lbs. “This was after a whole summer of this boy misbehaving.”

The boy reported to school officials that his mother had spanked him 30 times on his bare buttocks.  Henson could have faced a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

“The state’s case appears to rely heavily on a photograph of the boy’s buttocks taken after the incident,” the local Janesville Gazette reported. “The picture shows the buttocks almost completely covered with bruises and redness.

“A judge said Wednesday that a picture of the bruised buttocks of a 10-year-old boy shows `extensive reddening,’ likely from `multiple or very hard strikes.’ School officials reported the incident to human services, which then reported it to police.”

All six children, aged 9 months to 13 years, were taken from Henson’s home after the report of the alleged abuse.  The four who belong to her and her current husband were returned two months later, and have now fled the state with their father.  The 10-year-old and his older sister have gone to live with their birth father.

Asked to explain the prosecution – which Suzanne Shell attributes to careful coaching of the 10-year-old by Henson’s ex-husband, who was challenging her custody of their two children – Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss told the Janesville Gazette back in March 2001, “Spanking is permissible.  This is not an issue over spanking.  Just because you have the authority to spank does not mean you can spank endlessly.”

Kay Henson, still nursing her 9-month-old, was jailed on September 11 of this year.  In jail she was denied a breast pump even though her breasts were painfully engorged, Shell wrote in a press release at the time.  “Evidence that mastitis was setting in began to appear.  Kay’s pleas for relief fell on deaf ears.  She was told that if someone would bring her a breast pump, she would be allowed to have it.  Two friends rushed over with breast pumps.  Neither was accepted.”

I called Suzanne Shell last week.

“She’s still in jail.  On November 14 they’re going to have a probation revocation hearing; they contend her kids were playing in the street.  In fact, they were crossing the street.”

Does it look like they singled Henson out?

“Yes, this is a whole neighborhood full of children who play in the streets, crossing the yards and the street.  They’ve done so because she has been very vocal and active in regards to parents’ rights, particularly after her kids were removed and placed in foster care for several months. . . .

“Whenever they’ve come over to her house she’s put me on the speaker phone and I’ve recorded all those conversations,” Shell continued. “They would come in and do surprise spot checks of the children’s butts, make them pull down their pants and check their butts, I have videotape evidence of that.”

Arthur of the book “Profane Justice,” Shell has been working to change the nation’s children welfare laws for 11 years, since her own child was taken away for spanking.   “Children are being taken away from homes who have not been harmed, “ she explains.  “I don’t think they should ever terminate parental rights without proof that a child has been seriously hurt. . . .

“I work with people all over the country in these kinds of cases; a man in North Carolina had his kids taken because his house was too small, they said it was not adequate for 10 kids.  They never got their kids back even though they got a larger house.  Now he’s talking about it to the press even after a judge issued gag orders, so now he’s in jail.  He says there’s no place he’d rather be, because he felt he had to speak out.”

Shell continues: “One of the things I advocate in my book, if there’s any suspicion the state  is going to seize your children but nothing has been filed, then flee . . . As long as there are financial incentives to remove children from the home, families are not safe.  I’ve got several families with their children in hiding now – I had a father here in the Denver area who swatted his little girl one time on the bottom because she was fooling around, he’s going to trial in December on misdemeanor charges.  His children are out of state and safe now, too.”

Suzanne Shell’s book, “Profane Justice,” is available through


Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, Las Vegas, Nevada.  He is the author of the books “Send in the Waco Killers” and “The Ballad of Carl Drega.”  For information on his books or his monthly newsletter visit  His column appears Sunday in the Review-Journal


TORCH EDITOR:  It’s all about money.  If these social do-gooders don’t kidnap enough children every year their budget will be cut.  I have known of some homes where the children ought to be taken but usually they are never bothered.  It is usually homes where people are only disciplining their children – usually in the Bible way.  THE LIBERALS HATE THE BIBLE AND THOSE WHO BELIEVE IT!!

The reason children are causing so many problems these days is because there is hardly any discipline in most homes and none at school.  If these laws had been in force when I was a kid my mother would have been sent away for life.  Our pear tree had very few limbs on it on the lower branches.  My mother would strip off one of those limbs, and start on my ankles, as I headed for the house.  She would finish up on my bare butt.



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