View Full Version : Tough Love or Abuse?

Dec 4th, 2002, 10:51 AM
Tough Love or Abuse?
Sheriff's sergeant and a school principal are on trial for stern discipline of their teenage son that allegedly escalated into psychological abuse.

By Stuart Pfeifer , Times Staff Writer

Grady and Deborah Machnick were distressed about their teenage son's behavior. His chores went unfinished. His grades were slipping. He stole money from them and shoplifted at the local supermarket.

So the parents took drastic steps.
Grady Machnick, a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant, and his wife, an elementary school principal, locked the boy out of the house until he finished his algebra homework. Some nights, they forced him to sleep outside on a dog mat.

When the boy didn't pick up after the family dogs, his stepmother scooped up droppings from the backyard and put them in his backpack before he went to school.

Often, he was excluded from the dinner table, forced to eat leftovers in the kitchen while the rest of the family dined on fresh-cooked meals.

The Machnicks say they did this to discipline a wayward son before he got into even worse trouble. Prosecutors say their actions were not only misguided but also criminal.

The parents went on trial this week in a child-endangerment case the likes of which prosecutors say they've never seen before. Most child abuse involves sudden, violent acts. This case focuses on what Orange County authorities describe as premeditated psychological cruelty.

Essentially, the Machnicks are accused of going overboard in their efforts to curb their son's behavior efforts that, by their account, began with "positive reinforcement" and other steps right out of a parenting self-help book. Implicitly, the case asks the justice system to define when parental tough love veers into criminality.

The Machnicks are charged with misdemeanor child endangerment and felony conspiracy. If convicted of both offenses, they could each be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Jury selection began Wednesday in Superior Court in Newport Beach.

The couple, who have pleaded not guilty, do not dispute many of the allegations, though they deny ever physically harming the boy, now a 16-year-old high school junior. When authorities confronted them last year, the parents insisted that there was a constructive purpose behind the punishments they devised.

"One of my biggest regrets is I was unable to find a form of behavior modification that would work," Grady Machnick said in a written statement released by his attorney, John Barnett. The boy "has great potential but simply would not obey school or home rules."

Dec 4th, 2002, 10:55 AM
A school principal should know better than this.arrrrgggghhh.:mad:

now, I'm concerned about the kids who are attending that school.:o

Dec 4th, 2002, 10:59 AM
The dog poop in the backpack is what really turned my stomach
:( How sadistic!

Dec 4th, 2002, 11:18 AM
I think any parent that puts dog manure in a child's backsack cannot claim "positive re-inforcement"

Any parent that would demand their child sleep on a "dog-mat" should be made verile.

The family dining table is where conflicts and resoltutions are resolved...sometimes with children being sent to their room..not the dog mat with scraps.

The child needs to be taken from them and given a chance.

To me it's more about 2 head-strong ball busting parents throwing their "head" status at work at their child...there has to be more involved in this story.

Of course this would be damaging to this child.

Children need to be nurtured and held...I don't have any...but sheesh I wish I could have this child come live with me..it's very sad.

She should be reported...however if this is public then it will be guaranteed that the school board working with social workers will achieve that.

He is one of the few police that tarnish great police by thinking they are the "Be all and end all"..."So listen to me...I'm a police Officer"...Blahhh

They both should be steralised.

Dec 4th, 2002, 11:22 AM
And to add to that....when I was punished...I had to help Mum out in the garden weeding....having spoken to her a few weeks ago and it came up...she said..."I knew you wouldn't like it...but at least you were outside learning something"

That is what I call good punishment...my gardens are spectacular always :-)