The Legal Limits To Physically Disciplining A Child

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(File photo.  Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(File photo. Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Is it illegal to spank your child?

A California Court recently ruled that despite leaving bruises, a mother’s use of a wooden spoon to spank her 12-year-old daughter was not child abuse. When can parents use physical punishment and when does it cross the line into child abuse?

Most parental experts will tell you that hitting a child is unacceptable. But the law, for the most part, says something different.

Delaware is the only state currently to outlaw any physical punishment by a parent. In the other states, the laws vary but in general mild physical force is allowed so long as it is not intended, nor does it, cause severe physical or emotional injury to a child.

Corporal punishment crosses the line into child abuse where excessive force based on the child’s size and age, and the force or severity of the punishment and whether objects were used.

That leaves a good deal up to the judgment of the parent, but one might wonder if the California court that found that a beating that left bruises isn’t child abuse might need a spoon to the backside to give them a little common sense.

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