Update: Andrew Atkerson was found guilty of felony child abuse on Aug. 11, 2022, and sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by three years on probation.
A week after a 33-year-old Palm Coast parent was arrested on a felony charge of abusing his high school son over the boy’s sexual orientation, another 33-year-old Palm Coast father with a history of violence was arrested on a similar charge after allegedly attacking his 9-year-old son over a purchase he made on an iPad.
Andrew Atkerson, a resident of Reine Place in Palm Coast, was charged with child abuse “without great bodily harm” based on an incident that took place on Feb. 3. He was arrested today.
According to Atkerson’s arrest report, Atkerson found out that his son, along with the boy’s younger brother, had made an “in-application purchase” on their iPad. It enraged Atkerson, who allegedly pushed the 9-year-old boy, “picked him up multiple times and threw him into items inside the home including walls and closets.” As a result, the boy, according to the report, suffered bruising under both eyes, bruising on his left hip area, and bruising on his upper back right shoulder area.
The report doesn’t clarify the status of the boys’ parents, who appear to have been separated, noting only that Atkerson and the boys’ mother were in text communications after the incident, and after she had picked up the older boy from school the next day. It was then that the boy’s mother noticed the signs of injuries. In a text, Atkerson is quoted as saying that he did not touch the boy, adding, “besides whipping his ass,” possibly about the younger boy, but was said to admit that “I might have overpunished them a little bit.”
Corporal punishment, illegal in many countries, is legal in Florida (including in schools), as long as the violence is applied “in a reasonable manner.” The law’s vague and paradoxical wording, simultaneously allowing and qualifying violence on a child, is left to the interpretation of parents or custodians of children, who easily misinterpret the permissiveness, turning discipline into sadism, or worse: close to 2,000 children–about five a day–died of child neglect or abuse in 2019 in the United States. (See “Child Maltreatment 2019,” a federal report.) The buffer between parental authority and psychological or physical violence in Florida is likely narrowing due to such new laws as the state’s “Parental Bill of Rights,” which magnifies parental authority in the face of local or state intervention.
In the Atkerson case, the child was interviewed by the Child Protection Team, a state-authorized mechanism that kicks in when a child is suspected of having been abused, and that so far has escaped restraints or restrictions from the push for more parental rights.
“No child should ever have to endure what this man did to his child. It appears this man has no ability to control his rage,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly was quoted as saying in a release issued today. “Parents have the right to discipline their children but cannot go overboard, which happened in this case. A more appropriate discipline would have been to restrict access to the iPad or make them do chores around the house to pay for the items they ordered, not beat their child. I’m thankful the mother reported her observations and the work our detectives and DCF have done on this case to protect the children. Child abuse victims often have to live with those scars forever.”
Atkerson’s record could not be verified through court documents as Flagler County court’s computerized system was struck by a power outage today, making documents inaccessible. The release notes that Atkerson’s previous charges dating back to 2004 include Battery, Simple Battery, Simple Assault, Felony Battery, Battery by a Prisoner, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Possess/Manufacture/Sell Dangerous Weapon, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Receiving Known Stolen Property, Vehicle Theft, Carjacking, Obstruct/Resist Public Officer, Trespassing, Resisting Arrest with Violence, Violation of Probation, and Disorderly Intoxication.
Abuse Hotline: Report Abuse Online
The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Please use the links below to report a child or adult abuse.
If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911.
TTY: 711 or
Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare is a mandatory reporter. § 39.201(1)(a), Florida Statutes.
To report an allegation in Spanish or Creole, please call 1-800-962-2873, for TTY use 711 or 1-800-955-8771. This toll free number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with counselors waiting to assist you.
Please put this man under the jail and don’t let him anywhere near those children again ever.
Concerned Citizen says
What’s up with all these supposed men running around beating on children?
How about you try that with an adult. And see how far you get? I bet the outcome won’t be the same.
Corporal punishment, illegal in many countries, is legal in Florida (including in schools), as long as the violence is applied “in a reasonable manner.” LEAVE IT TO THE STATE OF FLORIDA TO HAVE SUCH A LAW ON THE BOOKS. AND IF YOU RE-ELECT DESANTIS IS WILL HAVE OTHER LAWS PUT INTO EFFECT THAT ONLY FEED INTO HIS DICTATOR EGO.
THIS FATHER SHOULD NEVER BEEN ALLOWED TO HAVE HIS SONS IN HIS PRESENCE WITHOUT SUPERVISION.
Lock him up and make sure he gets a good old fashioned tune up while he is in his cage. Maybe then he he will realize what it is like to be the prey. That is all bullies like this understand.
A long rap sheet. Just saying
If you want to release your frustrations, just look for a bigger and tougher guy, so that he may knock that negative
energy out of you. It really works…
Shame on this loser for perpetrating such violence on his child.