They bust through his office doors. His co-workers stare in disbelief. They launch towards him and grab him out from behind his desk.
“You’re under arrest, anything you do or say can be used against you in court”. They tell him his rights and let him know that he’s been arrested on suspicion of child abuse. Wait…what?!
California democrat assemblyman Joaquin Arambula and his wife Elizabeth, have 3 daughters aged 3, 6, and 7. They’re great kids but often misbehave which of course requires disciplinary action.
How a parent disciplines their child is left to their own discretion as long as it doesn’t cross the line to child abuse. However, this line is more difficult to see nowadays, just as Arambula was about to find out.
It was the morning before school. He asked her what she would like for breakfast, her answer was barely audible. She had still not forgiven him for spanking her.
He decided to let her get over it in her own time and helped get her ready for school, unaware that he was setting the scene for his whole life to spiral out of control.
The night before, his eldest daughter misbehaved yet again. Arambula walked into the room to find she had made her little sister cry with her toys thrown across the room.
Fed up with this kind of behavior, he yelled at her and decided his normal punishment of timeouts and restricted privileges wasn’t enough this time. He gave her a spanking she wouldn’t soon forgive.
She finished her pancakes and orange juice and sulked while her mother prepared her lunch. She continued to sulk in the car on the way to school.
Her mom explained, “She was angry, she was really angry that he spanked her. She woke up angry, and she went to school angry, and wanted to be heard.”
As usual, Arambula went to work in a separate car. It was just another day of family and work for him. But for his begrudged 7-year-old daughter, it was something completely different.
She still felt an ache on her body where he spanked her. An ache that reminded her of her mistreatment. An ache that reminded her of her anger. An anger that fuelled her revenge.
She entered the classroom, visibly vexed. Her second-grade teacher later said she arrived late that day and seemed a little annoyed but was otherwise participating in class as normal.
Like many of us, kids have bad days too so the teacher didn’t think much of her demeanor at first. But that all changed when she asked her for an ice pack.
Alarmed, the teacher immediately called the cops. They came in numbers to the school. They asked the teacher what happened. The teacher told them everything she knew.
Everything she knew that was told to her by the vexed 7-year-old. As the teacher disclosed further information to the cops, another squad was heading straight towards Arambula’s office.
They bust through his work building, gaining the attention of all Arambula’s co-workers. They reach his office door and grab him out from behind his desk.
“You’re under arrest, anything you do or say can be used against you in court”. They continue to regurgitate his rights and let him know that he’s been arrested on suspicion of child abuse. He’s completely dumbfounded.
Terrified, he looked around the room and saw his whole department staring wide-eyed and gob-smacked. He reflected their expression and looked to the faces of the officers who were putting him in handcuffs.
He tried to explain calmly that there must be some confusion. Did they really think he hurt a child? He couldn’t wrap his head around what was happening. But it was just the beginning.
He was totally confused until he was brought in for questioning. They tell him what happened. That his daughter had reported his crime to her teacher, who then reported to us.
His jaw dropped. Why did the teacher intervene and what did his daughter say he did that would put him in jail for the foreseeable future? He asked for more detail about what his daughter had said.
She told the teacher about his unfair spanking and showed her a bruise. Seeing a bruise that she claimed to have been caused by her father’s punishment, along with her distressed demeanor led the teacher to call the cops immediately.
However, some say this wasn’t warranted, and the actions of the school getting involved like this was wrong.
Online, many parents had a lot to say about this. One user said, “You have GOT to be kidding me! All parents would be in jail if kids complained about discipline. We’ve gone overboard in this country!”.
While another disagreed, “There is NO reason a child should ever have to feel the weight, force of a grown adult! Discipline does not have to be physical punishment”. But how did the judge see it?
After a long legal process for the family and several interviews from relatives and teachers at the school, Arambula’s case was dismissed and he was found not guilty.
They asked the case to be dismissed for two main reasons: 1) It is not a crime to be an “imperfect parent,” and 2) the police obtained confidential records without a required court order. However, the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence of child abuse.
Arambula’s walked away from this with a very valuable lesson on parenting and now strives to do better while reminding his children more about how much he cares and loves them.
He added that he’ll make sure his eldest daughter knows “that she’s loved and that her dad cares for her tremendously, that we both do, and that she has a wonderful place with us.”