A mother has defended herself after a video of her whipping her 12-year-old daughter with a belt went viral.
Mum-of-four Helen Bartlett was filmed beating her sobbing daughter while swearing at her after the girl shared sexually explicit photos of herself on Facebook.
The six-minute clip, uploaded to Facebook and shared tens of thousands of times, shows the mum repeatedly belting the cowering girl as she whimpers in pain.
But far from regretting her actions, the mum from Point Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago, defended herself from accusations of child abuse.
In fact, the 12-year-old girl and her older sister even uploaded another video expressing their support for their mum and saying she was just trying to protect her daughter from teenage pregnancy or worse.
The unsettling clip has sparked a debate about whether the mum went too far. Some people defended the beating as in the child's best long-term interests, while others saw it as abuse and said the mother should be arrested.
What sparked the mother's actions was a text message exchange between her daughter and a boy the same age, who was trying to convince her to have sex with him.
After the mother read the messages, she accessed her underage daughter's Facebook profile and discovered photos of the girl posing 'seductively' in her underwear.
Ms Bartlett explained that while her child is pretty and intelligent, she has a low self-esteem and is susceptible to peer pressure.
She told local news that her worst fear was that if the 12-year-old continued down to act like that, one day she would end up pregnant or dead on the streets.
She said: "I stand firmly by my decision. I will go to jail for it,' the woman said. 'I know people are saying the authorities should charge me for abuse."
Asked about her daughter's state of mind following the release of the controversial video, Ms Bartlett said the girl was coping 'unexpectedly well.'
In her response video, the daughter said she knew her mother loves her dearly, and she reassured the viewers that has no intention of killing herself because she loves herself 'too much.'
And defending Ms Bartlett's severe brand of discipline, her older daughter explained in her counter video that with their father not around anymore, there is no male figure in the family to set her out-of-control sibling straight.
She said: "The road my sister was heading down was teenaged pregnancy.
"She saw this as a way she could stop it. My sister has learnt her lesson."
In a message to her mum, the 12-year-old added: "I am very sorry for bringing shame on you and the family. I know you love me dearly. And I love you dearly, too."
The girl then appealed to other children her age, urging them to watch the video of her beating and learn from it.
She said: "You are a special piece of God's puzzle. And don't let what happen to me happen to you also."
The incident sparked a heated public debate in Trinidad and Tobago over the issue of corporal punishment, and whether Helen Bartlett's actions displayed in the video crossed the line.
According toJamaica Observer, Trinidad and Tobago's Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development has weighed in on the issue, calling on parents to use 'non-physical forms of discipline.'
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