A Democratic assemblyman in California was arrested Monday on suspicion of child cruelty after allegedly spanking his daughter. On Wednesday, he claimed that he had only done so as a means of punishment.
In an interview with the Fresno Bee, lawmaker Joaquin Arambula spoke about an incident at home Sunday night that led him to spank his 7-year-old. The following day, when she went to school, she allegedly told her teacher what had happened and expressed how she was upset about it, sparking an investigation by Child Protective Services (CPS).
“I disciplined her as a consequence to something she did. This is something that’s really rare for us. It’s a tool of last resort but it’s something that we do. And I spanked her bottom,” he explained. “She was pretty upset, and she struggled to be able to share her emotions, as I’m sure you can appreciate a 7-year-old will. But that’s all that happened.”
Still, Arambula was arrested on Monday night and accused of willful cruelty to a child. As of Wednesday, CPS and the Department of Social Services declared Arambula and his wife, Elizabeth, fit to bring their three children — aged 3, 6 and 7 — who had been staying with Arambula’s parents, back home.
“It was us disciplining — normal discipline to our child,” Arambula said. “And I’m in the midst of a process that is playing out as we speak.”
The Fresno Bee additionally reports, “Arambula thanked his daughter’s teacher, Fresno police and Child Protective Services for ‘doing their jobs’ and ‘following the process.’” Family psychologist Barbara Greenberg tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the incident was “handled beautifully.”
“Anything that hurts a child physically and emotionally, in my opinion, is abuse and should be reported,” Greenberg says. “Too often kids go to school looking for help and they’re not taken seriously. The school took this very seriously, as they should, and they did what they were supposed to do.”
As for the assemblyman’s actions, however, Greenberg says, “Nothing good comes from [spanking].”
“There are much, much better ways to teach your children, and losing control and putting your hands on a child, there’s nothing good that comes from it,” she says. “You don’t create kids with self-esteem and with the ability to handle frustration by spanking them.”
Arambula told the publication that he has no plans to resign. If convicted, the assemblyman could face up to six months in jail and possible probation.