Find the right lawyer now

Laws against Spanking

Find a Local Criminal Defense Lawyer near You

Laws against Spanking

Although the act of spanking a child is not necessary a crime, every state has laws against child abuse. Child abuse includes any act which is intended or reasonably likely to cause serious and permanent physical, psychological, or emotional harm to a child.

Most state laws against child abuse clearly state that mild physical force for discipline is allowed. However, the discipline cannot cause severe pain or injury and must be intended by the parent or guardian to be in the child’s best interest.

Is Spanking Child Abuse?

No state has expressly banned spanking. However, if too much force is used, or corporeal injury occurs, spanking may cross the line into abuse. 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. A typical spanking appears to be legal in most states. This means a moderate, open-handed blow on a part of the body which is not particularly sensitive or prone to injury .

What Type of Discipline Is Considered Child Abuse?

Be aware that 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.

Should I Seek Legal Help?

If you have been accused of child abuse, it is highly recommended that you contact a criminal attorney to protect your rights.

Photo of page author Nicole Shoener

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-30-2018 08:17 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.