A 30-year-old mother from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was arrested on Monday after allegedly whipping three of her kids as punishment for breaking into a neighbor's residence, according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.
The mother, Schaquana Spears, was booked into jail this past Monday evening on a charge of cruelty to juveniles, according to a probable cause affidavit from the sheriff's office obtained by ABC News today.
According to the affidavit, Spears admitted to whipping her 13-year-old, 12-year-old and 10-year-old son after they allegedly "burglarized a residence down the street" last Friday.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore told ABC News in a statement today that he would be reviewing all the material in the case before making a decision on whether to formally file criminal charges.
"Parents have the right and obligation to discipline and teach their children," Moore said. "We often time see children who have no parental authority or discipline which eventually results in delinquency and criminal acts. We need more parents who discipline their children. Surely you would expect a parent to discipline a child who is burglarizing other people’s homes as this could be a deadly encounter for the child."
The 13-year-old and 10-year-old told detectives they were whipped with an RCA cord, and the 12-year-old said he was whipped with a belt, the affidavit said. The 13-year-old admitted to breaking into someone's residence, according to the affidavit.
Detectives found that the eldest son "had lacerations to both his arms and linear marks on his leg, shoulder, back and stomach," the affidavit said. The 12-year-old had "lacerations to his left arm that did break his skin," and the 10-year-old had "a small scratch on his hand."
Spears told ABC affiliate WBRZ she felt like authorities had made her look like a "bad guy for trying to discipline my kids and showing them right from wrong."
"It's been hell," Spears said. "I never could imagine that trying to be a good mother would end me up in jail with a criminal record like I'm a predator out to hurt my kids who I live for."
According to online inmate booking records from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, Spears has since been released.
Spears' neighbor, Alisa Nicholson -- who lives in the house allegedly broken into by Spears' kids -- told WBRZ that she felt "so bad" because she thought Spears "did what she was supposed to do."
"Her kids broke into a house that they could’ve got killed at, or the police could’ve seen them going in and shot them," Nicholson said. "And I feel so bad that all this had to happen from her whooping her kids for them breaking them into someone’s home –- which is very dangerous, especially these days."
"The degree of physical discipline will be reviewed," Moore, the District Attorney, said. "The law does not allow excessive pain or cruelty but does allow physical parental discipline. I only have the short synopsis which does indicate that the discipline resulted in marks on the child’s body and possibly an open wound. I will review all of the reports; meet with the DCFS office and review any history of this mother and her children to get a better picture of the entire family dynamics before making a decision."
Spears and her attorney, Marcus Allen, told ABC News today that they were not immediately available to provide additional comment.