Discipline or abuse: Where to draw the line

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A metro mom was arrested Tuesday night after witnesses said they saw her hit her young daughter.

However, another witness said the suspect is a great mom and that the child was throwing a tantrum.  

So, is it discipline or abuse?

What should we do if we witness something we see as a little extreme?

OKC Police MSgt. Gary Knight said, "Apparently, the child was inside a vehicle and having a temper tantrum was screaming loudly and the mother began striking the child several times."

It happened Tuesday night in a store parking lot at Reno and MacArthur.

Police said a witness called 911 after seeing Elizabeth Wolfe strike her child numerous times.

According to the police report, witnesses saw Wolfe slap and punch her 2-year-old daughter.

The witness who called 911 says Wolfe also told her, "This is my f****** kid. I can do whatever I want."

Knight said, "Ultimately, the officer placed the woman under arrest and took the child to the hospital to be checked out."

Sheree Powell, spokesperson for the Department of Human Services, said the witnesses did the right thing by calling police.

She said anyone who witnesses abuse or even extreme discipline should report it.

Powell said, "You do have that hesitation of, should I step in or whether you think that really is abuse and neglect because every parent reserves the right to discipline their child."

Powell said DHS has qualified people who investigate those reports.

DHS supervisors are trained to determine the difference between discipline and abuse.

Powell said, "If they see something happen like that, that in their heart they just feel like is really beyond normal discipline, go ahead and report it."

Knight said, "If you think there is a child in danger, go ahead and call 911. That is what we are here for."

In Oklahoma, by law, we are responsible for reporting suspected abuse or neglect.
You can make a report by calling the DHS Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-522-3511 or by calling 911.

DHS asks that you only call the hotline to report neglect or abuse.

The line has been tied up numerous times lately by those calling for non-abuse issues.

They encourage those with any non-abuse or neglect issue to call their local office for help.

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