NEWPORT NEWS — A Newport News mother is defending herself after been charged with malicious wounding for spanking her child with a belt.
Single mother Tiffannie Braxton, was at grad school Monday night when she says she got some scary news.
She says "My boyfriend sent me a picture message sharing that my son set fire to his room."
Scared and upset, Tiffannie says she ran home and found her 8-year-old son's bedroom floor scarred with burn marks. You can see burn marks in the wood and on the side of the dresser, right near a surge protector.
Tiffannie says, "He got a spanking. He did get a spanking. And he was moving as the belt was...and yes, I used a belt to spank him. It wasn't supposed to get all out of hand or anything. It was just to show him, just to scare him a little bit that fire is no joke. And that he could have died right up there in that room within seconds."
Tiffannie's tough love has now got her in a bit of trouble with police. Newport News Police say a nurse at Riverside Elementary School noticed bruises on Tiffannie's son and called Child Protective Services, who then called police.
Officers arrested Tiffannie on Tuesday and charged her with malicious wounding.
Newport News Police spokesman Lou Thurston says, "It's pretty obvious by the injuries that this wasn't a 'I take a belt and smack you on the rear end.' That is a lot more significant than that."
But Tiffannie says she would never hurt her own child maliciously. She wants what is best for her son, including protecting him from hurting himself or others.
She says, "That's all I was trying to do. I don't want my baby to grow up like these criminals that are setting up fires everywhere and killing people and raping people. I don't want my baby to grow up that way. I'm showing him yes, the world is hard out there and no one is going to show you any type of love besides your family."
Tiffannie says she never meant for any of this to happen. She just wanted to show her son that playing with fire is not allowed. Tonight, her son is staying with relatives as police and Child Protective Services investigates.