A separated man has been acquitted of the crime of unfair harassment and injuries in the domestic sphere of which he was accused by his 13-year-old daughter, whom he scolded, yelled at and held up for live constantly looking at the mobile phone, ignoring the family even during a date in a restaurant. Magistrate Carlos Suárez-Mira, head of the Investigating Court number 3 of A Coruña, takes advantage of the ruling in this specific case to reflect on those restaurant tables where parents and children ignore each other while they turn their attention to their mobile devices, and to recall the rights of parents and the obligations of children as set out in the Civil Code: “The right of parents to correct their minor children continues to exist, as well as the obligation of children to obey their parents while they remain under their power, and always respect them.” The magistrate ironized that the man was faced with the modern dilemma of letting the girl do what “she wanted”, scold her as she did or “call the Civil Guard”. The judge believes that the man did “the most sensible thing” and that he did not intend to harm his daughter, with whom he always got along badly.
The events occurred between February 4 and 6, 2022, when the defendant’s two daughters spent that weekend at their paternal grandparents’ house, where they usually carried out the visitation regime when the man had the girls. On Friday, according to the sentence, the eldest daughter had spent the entire time of a family meal in a restaurant with her head bowed, writing “mobile messages to third parties and ignoring her father and sister.” They had already gotten into the premises and they got worse when her father told her things like “don’t come for that” or “you make my life bitter”, something that made the girl feel “humiliated”. She took her device from her at that time, because she understood that it was a rebellious situation and that, therefore, “he had to get serious and punish her without being able to use her cell phone.”
The next day, the man returned home at noon after spending the morning distributing bread (his job), to talk to his angry daughter and go out for a drink. But the minor “was still in bed using the mobile and she refused to accompany him.” “I’m your father, you get up and we’re going to have a drink,” she snapped. The sentence adds that, faced with “the girl’s new rebuff”, the defendant grabbed her by her arms and lifted her out of bed, while she kicked him. After the arrival of the grandfather and the little sister from the lower floor, alerted by the screams, the four of them went down to the kitchen of the house and there the defendant continued yelling at his daughter who continued to disrespect him. Her mother, after taking the best one to a health center, accompanied her daughter to file a complaint.
The judge breaks down the facts in the sentence to assess “whether the fact of yelling at a 13-year-old daughter who is completely ignoring her father and devoting herself, with obvious disrespect to both him and her sister, to chatting with third parties from the mobile device, and even reprimanding her for it, telling her that to do that it was better for her not to come, or informing her that with that attitude she was making her life bitter, constitutes a crime of unjust vexation of a minor nature”. The magistrate responds: it is not a crime, because the father has to educate and because there is the right of correction. And he reflects on his own experience: “Every day and at all hours we see in any restaurant, cafeteria or entertainment venue how children of all ages are absorbed —if not obsessed— watching the screen of their electronic devices and completely oblivious to their environment, which includes parents and relatives whom they do not even look at or even listen to. And this when they are not the ones who, in the same way, continually consult their mobile phones between dishes. But if someone takes —finally— the responsible attitude of censoring this gathering of engrossed Internet users, it does not seem that they should be considered a criminal, even if they do so vehemently”.
The defendant, writes Carlos Suárez-Mira, could have refrained from educating his daughter, “allowing her to do whatever she wanted”, or reprimand her so that she behaved correctly or call the Civil Guard post to seek their meritorious help. in the educational task”. The magistrate emphasizes that, in his opinion, the man “opted for the most sensible position”, while stressing that “the right of correction would be established as a cause of justification and would entail the same result: acquittal for the crime of unjust vexation of mild character in the domestic sphere”. The minor had requested a year in prison for her father, a restraining order for two years and the withdrawal of parental authority for three years.
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