Laws Against Spanking
Every state has laws against child abuse. Child abuse includes any act which is calculated or reasonably likely to cause serious and permanent physical, psychological, or emotional harm to a child.
However, the vast majority of state laws against child abuse clearly state that mild physical force for discipline is allowed, if it does not cause severe pain or injury, and is reasonably calculated by the parent or guardian to be in the child’s best interest. No state has explicitly banned spanking.
Note that spanking may cross the line into abuse if excessive force is used. Most state laws against abuse take into account the age, size, and condition of the child, as well as the type, location, and severity of the force used.
In light of these laws, a typical spanking – a moderate, open-handed blow on a part of the body which is not particularly sensitive or prone to injury – appears to be legal.
However, the line between spanking and abuse is not always clear. As a general rule, hitting a child with a closed fist, burning a child, or hitting the child with any object other than the hand, crosses the line from discipline to abuse.
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Last Modified: 01-18-2013 03:34 PM PST
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