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.