Spanking has been hotly debated by both parents and experts over the years. Some say that spanking is child abuse; others say that spanking is an effective form of discipline. Here’s what you need to know about the legality of spanking.
Is Spanking Illegal?
In the United States, it is legal to use mild physical force when disciplining a child. None of the 50 states have laws that expressly forbid spanking. However, many states have laws that restrict what a parent can and can’t do.
In Delaware, for example, Senate Bill 234 restricts parents from using discipline that causes physical pain to children. A light smack on the bottom should be fine, but hitting a child with more force may not be. Many other states restrict who is allowed to spank a child. In states like Mississippi, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, only parents or guardians are permitted to spank a child.
When Does Spanking Become Abusive?
In the majority of states, spanking is considered to be child abuse when excessive force is used. If a child is being bruised because of spankings, or if the child is being hit with an object, the spanking could be classified as abusive.
Most states frown on any type of spanking that causes injury to the child. Some states, like Arkansas, only permit spanking when it is done with an open palm. If you intend to spank your child, you need to be familiar with the laws in your state.
What Do The Experts Say?
Experts have conflicting opinions on spanking. While most child care experts do not classify mild spanking as abuse, few have found that spanking has a positive effect on children. Studies have shown that children that are spanked are more likely to defy their parents and develop anti-social behavior.
With that said, it is ultimately up to parents to decide the best way to discipline their children. It’s a good idea for parents to read up on the effects of spanking. Parents can decide how they would like to handle the discipline of their child.
Unless an excessive amount of force is used, spanking a child is not considered to be abusive. Parents are permitted to use a reasonable amount of force when they are disciplining their children.
However, spanking isn’t something that parents should take lightly. Every adult that intends to spank their child should be familiar with the laws in their state by consulting with a personal injury lawyer. Parents should make sure that their discipline techniques never cross the line.
More information about this was addressed in a TED talk: