Saturday, January 29, 2011

"It's just frustration, I really, I don't know what to do with him. I really, truly don't, and that's why I wrote to you, that's why I'm willing to sit up here and have an audience look at me and judge me because I need help for this child. I need help for me, but I know I need help for this child."

[UPDATE AUG 18, 2011:  The ADN reports Beagley's trial has begun in Anchorage.]

[UPDATE Aug. 24, 2011 - Beagley was convicted yesterday of child abuse.]

The Anchorage Daily News quotes Jessica Beagley, the wife of an Anchorage Police Officer, who was on the Dr. Phil television show with videotape of her trying to discipline her adopted Russian son by putting hot sauce in his mouth and putting him into a cold shower. 

There are so many different issues to discuss about this story.
  • Did this woman really go to Dr. Phil for help or was there some other motivation?
  • Why didn't she find help closer to home?
  • Should we be condemning her?  Her upbringing?  Our community for not having appropriate support?  Her education for not knowing how to find the support? 
  • Is condemnation the right response or should we be asking what we can do to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again in our community?
  • Is there a mental health issue here or is it just bad parenting models and ignorance?
  • Do we really want police officers 'protecting' us who can't protect their own children, or who believe this is an appropriate way to raise a kid?

My previous post talks about a program tonight at Out North featuring films made by teen parents.  These too are people who can use help with their parenting skills.  It's free at 7pm tonight (Saturday.)  For people like this woman who are desperate for parenting skills, this might be a good start.  Kids are welcome.

There are other options available in Anchorage.  It took me a few seconds to find these (see below) online.  Maybe these programs need to find more ways to reach out to people who need them.  Maybe they need more staff to do this.  Maybe there's a PR company that is willing to do some marketing for them so that people like Jessica Beagley wouldn't have to go to extremes to get on Dr. Phil.  Or maybe she went to extremes because she thought that would get her on Dr. Phil.

And I hope our mayor - Dan Sullivan - is asking himself why one of his police officers doesn't know where to get parenting help in Anchorage.  Surely, the people police deal with often need help with parenting.  Need to be sent to parenting classes.  Ask the mayor about this next time you see him.  Or send him an email .  (I'd also note that the Municipality of Anchorage has a Family Assistance program for employees to use to get help for personal problems like this.  Why didn't this policeman's wife use that? Or has this program been cut from the benefits?)

So many questions.  In the meantime, here are some resources in Anchorage.  If you don't need help from these organizations, these organizations need help from you.  Call them up and ask how you can help. 

The Anchorage School District has a page of resources for parents.  Here are three specifically for helping parents with parenting. 

Alaska Center for Resource Families
The State of Alaska Office of Children's Services (OCS) has contracted with Northwest Resource Associates to establish the Alaska Center for Resource Families which houses the Alaska Foster Parent Training and the Alaska Adoption Support Centers.

Positive Parenting Classes
Child Care Connection is dedicated to supporting and empowering parents throughout this process. They offer weekly parenting support classes that educate parents about child development and enable parents to network with other parents.

Stone Soup Group
Stone Soup Group is a statewide organization that exists to sustain the health and well being of Alaskan children with special needs and their families. They are responsible for the implementation of the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI).

The Alaska Court System has a list of organizations that help with parenting. (I'm just putting up a small sampling of what they have.)

Toll-Free Number Sponsored by the Alaska Children's Trust
Parent Line: 1-800-643-KIDS (5437) Get answers to all of your parenting questions from trained parent educators 9 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week.
Parenting Tips from the Alaska Children's Trust
  • Listen, talk and play with your child.
  • Be warm, loving and responsive.
  • Be a role model for respectful behavior and values you believe in.
  • Listen to your child without judging what you hear.
  • Establish rituals and routines.
  • Encourage your child to keep trying when he or she fails.
  • Set goals and celebrate accomplishments.
  • Set boundaries that are appropriate for your child.
  • Never leave your child alone or unattended.
  • Get to know the people in your child's life; coaches, relatives, friends, babysitters, ministers.
  • Monitor your child's internet use.
  • Choose quality day care and stay involved.
  • Be selective in your child's television watching.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Enjoy your child and have fun together!
In Anchorage:

Classes: Strengthening Families
Focus: Parents with children ages 6 through 11 years.
Class Description: The Strengthening Families program is designed to:
1. Decrease alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, and discourage intentions to use.
2. Decrease emotional, behavioral and social problems in school.
3. Improve communication and academic skills.
4. Improve parenting skills and the family environment.
5. Increase children's ability to cope.
6. Provide information to parents about alternative ways to increase positive interactions with their children.
Program begins with family dinner, then 1 hour of separate sessions for kids & adults and 1 hour together for fun and activities. Child care is provided for younger children.
Class Schedule: A 14 week program for the entire family offered throughout the year.
Cost: $135.00 for the entire family for 14 weeks. Scholarships are available for families who cannot afford to attend.
Contact: 907-565-1200
Alaska Youth and Family Network (AYFN)
Classes: Parenting with Love and Logic
Focus: Parents of children and youth with significant behavioral, emotional, or substance abuse issues.
Class Description: Our classes meet weekly with 10-14 participants who review reading, videos and engage in lively discussions during the 7 modules presented.
Class Schedule: Classes meet on Thursday evenings from 7-9 pm.
Cost: Cost is $75 per person and includes a workbook and completion certificate for all students meeting the hour and assignment requirements.
Contact: Call Jacquie Erickson @ 907-764-4441 for registration information or visit to get current class listings and down-load registration forms.
Location: Call to verify location. 

Cook Inlet Tribal Council Classes: Parenting Classes for Mothers, Mothers Peer Support Group, Co-parenting Class (The Ma & Pa Program), Fathers Journeys Fatherhood Support Program.
Focus: Parenting Classes for Mothers (Native Culture only), Mothers Peer Support Group: mothers of all ages or those who are expecting their first child (Native culture only). Co-parenting Class (The Ma & Pa Program): The MArriage & PArenting class focuses on Strengthening the Couple Relationship through an Exploration of Parenting Attitudes and Skills (Native culture only). Fathers Journeys Fatherhood Support Program: this program will promote responsible parenting that is aimed at improving the quality of father /child interaction.
Class Description: Parenting Classes for Mothers: Understanding your role as a parent, develop trust within family, communication, building self esteem with in the family, understanding parenting and power, accepting and growth through natural transitions in the life cycle, and accepting and growing through unexpected transitions in the life. Mothers Peer Support Group: This is an opportunity for mothers to share with peers their joys, concerns and highlights as a mother. Co-parenting Class (The Ma & Pa Program): The MArriage & PArenting is a group experience in which couples can strengthen their relationship through a shared exploration of parenting attitudes, skills and practices. It is structured to provide mothers and fathers with experiences that allow the self new cognitive (thinking) and affective (feeling) responses, thus providing the opportunity to change parenting attitudes and behaviors. Fathers Journeys Fatherhood Support Program: This program is to equip fathers who are facing economic challenges or involvement in the child protection system with social, parenting, financial, and life skills that will enhance their effectiveness as parents and will improve the well-being for their families.
Class Schedule: Parenting Class for Mothers: 10 week program. Mothers Peer Support Group: every Monday from 1:30 2:30 PM. Co-Parenting Class (The Ma & PA Program): 10 week classes are continuous throughout the year. Fathers Journeys Fatherhood Support Program: 13 week education group.
Cost: Call Cook Inlet Tribal Council for details and registration.
Contact: Parenting Class for Mothers, Mothers Peer Support Group, Co-Parenting Class (The Ma & PA Program) Louise Shavings at 907-793-3155. Fathers Journeys Fatherhood Support Program Frank Buck at 907-793-3165.

 Given all these local resources available.  It's hard for me to believe that the wife of a police officer had to go to Dr. Phil for help.  Is this what people are willing to do to their children in order to get on reality shows?

There's more to this story and it appears we might learn more, since the ADN also says that:
The city prosecutor's office filed a misdemeanor count of child abuse this month based on the videos and police interviews with the family, according to court documents.
The case has gained international attention because nearly all adoptions from the Russian Federation to the United States have been on hold for more than a year as diplomats on both sides work to get Russia better oversight of the adopted kids, who maintain Russian citizenship. News reports of abuse inflicted on adopted Russian children have angered many in Russia, according to Russia's Commissioner of Children's Rights.


  1. The reason why a Mayor like Dan Sullivan could care less that one if his own city's police officer's doesn't know what resources exist to help family dynamics is because he doesn't want to provide such services.

    It's not the Municipalities responsibilty, especially with families in the privacy of their own homes. Like the penultimate absent parent Sarah Palin, such public servants would direct you to a church. It's the devilish child or lack of faith of the parents when the prayer chain fails to cure.

    And maybe, just maybe, the woman wanted to get on teevee.
    Oh this is depressing.

  2. Firstly, I would like to THANK YOU for listing the resources above for those who have questions or struggle with difficult situations.

    As for Mrs. Beasley, she didn't go on Dr. Phil's show for any help, either before or after the show was taped.

    That "help" quote at the beginning of your article, was when she saw the tears, shocked faces, and harsh comments of the women in the audience and wanted to soften their perception of her actions.

    She was PROUD of her iron control over this young boy; she expected praise.

    Please watch the entire clip of the show, and notice her first reaction was a rather contemptuous "we have different opinions".

    Dr. Phil offered to support her with his staff of professional coaches and mentors. I guess she didn't like what they had to say, or the police would not have been involved at this point.

    I have read some other articles about this situation. Somehow it is being played out as a "political" or "religious" attack on her. Not so. The reaction of the women in Dr. Phil's audience was heartfelt, they were looking purely at the adult/child relationship in Mrs. Beasley's clip, not her religious or political affiliations.

    Please monitor this article's comments frequently, I have seen some very angry, even brutal comments on other sites. People, more violence and humiliation is not the answer.

    No doubt Mrs. Beasley feels the boy is "hers" to do with as she pleases, and resents government intrusion into her "private business". She really has no idea how bizarre a figure she cuts, modeling her idea of the parent/child dynamic.

  3. I heard the audio of this torture session on Shannyn Moore's radio show on Friday, and it was torture to listen to. Child Protective Services should immediately remove any children in her household and put them in foster care, and she should spend some serious jail time while getting counseling.

    How could a police officer let his spouse behave like this? He should also be tried for child neglect.

    I hope that poor Russian kid can be fostered by someone who knows how to deal with troubled kids from Russian orphanages, which are notoriously cruel.

    It may be the boy has FAS, which means that he *cannot* connect actions with consequences because of the brain damage cause by alcohol before he was born.

    These "parents" are not fit to have children in the home, period. And the father should be removed from the police force.

  4. Tiger Mom, meet. . . what kind of a mother feeds it's young hot sauce? I like Jewish Moms. Why do Jewish Moms get a bad rap for being protective of their children? The best advice on parenting comes from Jewish Moms. Mrs. Beasley is no jewish Mom.

    I like that you have listed some resources, but your readers probably aren't the people who need them. We are the ones teaching them or organizing them.

    What Jessica Beasley has done not only to her son, but to Russian-American adoptions with her 15 Minutes of Fame disgusts me. She will have time in Hell if there is a Hell for hurting other children (by stalling or causing adoptions to fall through) who have loving parents over here who are loving parents.


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