I am NOT against physical discipline and agree that I would prefer my children learn consequences as children than be faced with adult consequences later. That said, there is a difference between physical discipline and abuse!
Hot sauce is NOT an okay way to discipline a child and can cause health issues. It's literally acid! Putting acid in a child's mouth is simply not okay! And let me be clear here, adding hot sauce to food, which dilutes the potency, acidity and pain is completely different than forcing a child to hold a mouthful of sauce... Want proof? Do it yourself! Take a spoonful of hot sauce and hold it in your mouth, now tell me there is no difference between that and food!
And as for the cold shower... I shouldn't even need to address this! Cold showers were used as punishment and torture by the Nazis. And are used today as torture by armies trying to force confessions or information from war prisoners all over the world. Why would ANYONE think this kind of treatment is okay to use on a SEVEN year old CHILD? Hell, for that matter, there is some debate over whether or not it should be used for prisoners of war...
Now, to the question of "does she belong in prison?" Believe it or not, I'm on the fence! First, I am a firm believer that child abusers belong in prison! And I don't believe they should have the right to regain custody after they get out either... But here's the thing, this woman belonged to a generation where this type of punishment was considered normal and even loving by some. The idea that we have to be hard on our children or they will grow up weak was very much a part of the blue collar culture for many generations. I don't believe it was any more right than it is today, but the fact is, that's how it was.
My mother picked a switch off the tree, her father used a belt... Today, I would hope someone would remove children from a home like that, but then, it was not only accepted, but expected! I feel this woman is repeating that cycle and honestly doing what she believes she is supposed to do. The footage is from an episode of Dr. Phil where they were attempting to help mothers who had issues with anger and went to far with physical discipline. She was trying to get help, not just for her, but for her son. She was taking steps to better herself for the sake of this child.
So I think she believed she was doing what was best for the child, in an attempt to better his life and give him a good start... The child himself was an abandoned orphan from an alcoholic mother and a criminal for a father in Russia. When he was removed from his mother he and his brother were sleeping on shelves... This woman didn't only have four children of her own, but had adopted this in need child and his twin brother. She wanted to do everything she could to give him the life he deserved... But good intentions can sometimes lead to bad actions, and in this case, they did.
But prison? I don't think she is the classic child abuser. I don't think this was a control issue or a child who is unloved. I think this is a mother who is repeating an abuse cycle out of a true want to create a better life for this child and his twin. She made bad choices! And she needs help, but she's already admitted to and reached out for that! So, therapy, parenting classes, mentoring, even community service? These could be wonderfully benefits for this mother AND her children! But prison? What's that going to do? Remove the mother? Leave the father with 6 kids all by himself? Sure, but is it going to fix the problem? Far from it. If anything it's going to create more issues!
I understand that the system wants to make an example of this woman, and that since her issues were aired on TV something has to be done. But I think there are better options out there than a year of prison for her and a year without their mother for the kids.