OKLAHOMA COUNTY - A Choctaw man is charged with child abuse after court documents say a spanking went too far, leaving a seven-year-old boy with bruises all over his body.
Nathan Kirn, 28, is accused of hitting his son with a belt as punishment for bad behavior.
In an interview with police, Kirn admitted he was "a bit emotional" when the spanking was being administered and he was not aware of any injuries until his wife, who is not the boy's mother, noticed them several days later.
Kirn called the boy's mother the next day to tell her there was a "pretty bad bruise," according to an affidavit.
The mother went to Steed Elementary School to observe the boy's behavioral issues at school and noticed the bruises on the boy's "buttock, leg and right arm," including "significant bruising on his lower back and extending approximately 18 inches down to his lower left thigh."
The school called DHS which assessed the injuries and reported back to the district attorney, which found enough probable cause to file the criminal charge.
"It’s ultimately the judge that will decide," said DHS Spokeswoman Sheree Powell, who could not comment on any specific case. "Each situation is very individualized. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration: the age of the child, the injuries to the child, the intent of the parent, what was happening at the time."
Oklahoma law makes clear that parents are not prohibited "from using ordinary force as a means of discipline including, but not limited to, spanking, switching, or paddling."
DHS policy on physical abuse specifies "minor injury on a child older than ten years of age is not considered physical abuse," unless the actions created a probability that the child would sustain a more serious injury.
"We do understand there’s a lot of stress on parents right now," Powell said. "We would just encourage families to take a step back, take a breath when they start getting frustrated with their children and not carry out those frustrations on children."
DHS runs an abuse and neglect hotline. The number is: 1-800-522-3511