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Parental Discipline: When Is It Abuse and/or a Crime?

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[Update, May 2016: In this post on the SOG’s civil blog, Sara discusses two new appellate cases concerning the definition of abuse in the child discipline context.]

[Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Sara DePasquale, a relatively recent addition to the SOG faculty. Sara works in the areas of juvenile law and child welfare, and we are delighted to welcome her to the blog.]

Last Tuesday, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pled no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault after being charged in September with felony child abuse for disciplining his 4 year old son with a switch.  Since the charges, he has been on the NFL “Commissioners Exempt List” and unable to play. Nike terminated his contract on Tuesday, and his future with the NFL remains uncertain.

What if Adrian Peterson lived in North Carolina?

The facts as the public knows them are that Adrian Peterson’s son is 4 years old.  While he was with his father in Texas last spring, his father disciplined him with a wooden switch, which caused multiple bruises and open cuts on the boy’s hands, thighs, lower back, buttocks, and scrotum. The marks were still present when he returned to his mother’s care in Minnesota. She brought him to a doctor, who made a report to Texas authorities. Adrian Peterson was criminally charged, and there are limited references to a child protective action.

I believe Adrian Peterson would have faced the same legal actions here.

North Carolina has a universal mandated reporting law, requiring any person who has cause to suspect a child is abused, neglected, or dependent to make a report to the county department of social services where the child resides or is found. G.S. 7B-301(a).  The bruises and cuts on the child should have resulted in a report to a county DSS, thereby triggering the child protective services action. Upon determining a child is abused, the DSS director must report those findings to the district attorney and law enforcement for possible criminal investigation. G.S. 7B-307(a).

A Parent’s Right to Use Corporal Punishment

Parents have a fundamental constitutional right to care, custody, and control of their children, including the right to discipline them. Peterson v. Rogers, 337 N.C. 397 (1994). However, a state may interfere with a parent’s rights in order to protect a child when a parent is unfit or has acted inconsistently with those rights.  Price v. Howard, 346 N.C. 68 (1997). Corporal punishment in and of itself will not result in state interference because it is neither abuse nor illegal. In re C.B., 180 N.C. App. 221 (2006). In fact, absent a school board policy or a parent’s written statement to the contrary, NC allows for the use of corporal punishment by a child’s teacher, principal, or assistant principal so long as excessive force, which is defined as force that causes injury that requires medical attention beyond simple first aid, is not used. G.S. 115C-390.4.

What is the standard when determining if corporal punishment is abuse?

There are no bright line rules; instead, one must look at the facts of each case and consider the totality of the evidence as applied to the definitions of abuse under NC Juvenile and Criminal Codes. In re L.T.R., 181 N.C. App. 376 (2007). Factors to consider include:

  • whether there was a disciplinary purpose, and if so the duration, instrument, and amount of force used,
  • the child’s age, response, and level of discomfort,
  • whether there was injury (if so, of what type and duration) and need for treatment, and
  • loss of work/school.

In re L.T.R.; State v. Romero, 164 N.C.App. 169 (2004).

The existence of temporary red marks is not determinative. Scott v. Scott, 157 N.C. App. 382 (2003). The lack of immediate medical attention is also not determinative. See Romero. However, age is given great weight. See Romero and In re L.T.R. compared to In re C.B.

Child Protective Services

In a child protective services action, the court determines if a child is abused, neglected, or dependent rather than determine a parent’s culpability. In this case, the court will decide if Adrian Peterson’s son will be adjudicated neglected and/or abused.

One definition of “neglect” is “a juvenile who does not receive proper care, supervision, or discipline.” G.S. 7B-101(15). Age is a factor a court should consider when determining if the use of corporal punishment results in neglect.  For example, a 2 year old whose mother did not believe repeatedly striking him with a belt on his buttocks and thighs was inappropriate discipline was adjudicated neglected. In re A.J.M. , 177 N.C. App. 745 (2006).

There are several definitions of “abuse” in the Juvenile Code, two of which may apply here: a parent who inflicted serious physical injury to his child by other than accidental means, or a parent who used cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or devices to modify his child’s behavior. G.S. 7B-101(1)a., c. “Serious physical injury” is not defined by the Juvenile Code; however, the juvenile court may look to the Criminal Code for guidance and apply a fact specific analysis when considering all the evidence and factors. A 3 year old who is hit with a brush resulting in a six inch dark bruise lasting one week and causing the child discomfort days later was serious physical injury. In re L.T.R.  However, a 13 year old who was beaten with a belt that caused one bruise on his leg and one on his arm was not serious physical injury. In re C.B.

Criminal Actions

In addition to misdemeanor assault on a child under 12 [G.S. 14-33(c)(3) ], Adrian Peterson could have been charged with misdemeanor or felony child abuse.  The distinction between them is whether the child suffered “bodily injury” versus “serious bodily injury” or “serious physical injury” by other than nonaccidental means. G.S. 14-318.2; G.S. 14-318.4 . There’s little doubt the child experienced “physical injury.” Whether he suffered “serious physical injury,” which includes an injury causing great pain and suffering, is a question of fact for the judge or jury. Looking at the totality of the evidence, the court of appeals found no error with the determination that “serious physical injury” occurred when (1) a 1 year old was struck with a belt in his forehead by his father, the child cried upon being hit, and a visible bruise resulted. State v. Romero, 164 N.C.App. 169 (2004), (2) an 8 year old was repeatedly struck with a paddle on her buttocks causing her to bleed and resulting in her limping and needing medical care one week later, State v. Williams, 154 N.C. App. 176 (2002), and (3) a 9 year old was hit with a belt for at least 40 minutes resulting in multiple bruises, his being in pain for at least two weeks, and ultimately his hospitalization, State v. Williams , 184 N.C. App. 351 (2007).

Conclusion

Given Adrian Peterson’s son’s young age and the number, location, and duration of bruises and cuts, I believe he would have been adjudicated abused and/or neglected. I also believe this constitutes “serious physical injury” that could support a conviction of felony child abuse.  What do you think?

73 comments on “Parental Discipline: When Is It Abuse and/or a Crime?

  1. I don’t think it is ever necessary to hit a child with anything other than a hand and then only on the buttocks. It’s called an old fashion spanking, and if used only in rare situations it is usually effective. However, spanking a child every time the child does something wrong defeats the purpose as they will no longer react to it as a punishment, in other words it looses it’s power to deter bad behavior. A red bottom from a spanking never hurt any child and if used correctly is a fairly good tool. Using anything other than a hand on the bottom, in my opinion is abuse and can lead to injury to the child. When angry, care givers often lash out with belts, paddles etc. and tend to hit harder and/or longer than they would if not ,causing physical harm to the child that was not intended. So, in my opinion spanking a child on his or her buttocks while they are fully clothed and then only when nothing else works is the only proper way to use corporal punishment. Anything else is abuse.

    • Wrong, Ms. Lane. I never got in trouble, and my kids never got in trouble not because we were afraid of the law, it was because we were afraid of our Daddy whipping our butt. Not with a hand, which has enough mass to bruise or even break a bone, but with a switch which weighs only a few ounces but has enough velocity to “warm that tail up,” without doing any physical harm. I switch my boys much because they knew if they talked back, lied, told on anybody, didn’t do what I said ect. it meant immediate butt warming. Most of the people that you see in court are the victims of bad, negligent parents that didn’t discipline their child

      • Ms. Peacock please email me at mflores@lsenergia.com

        my children and I were victims and I need advice please

      • Right on Mr. Peacock! I raised 3 boys, and I was never embarrassed to take them in public….. They knew discipline and respected the rules because of it! Those that receive a screaming at or an occasional tyrant beating are abused not those that are disciplined in a proper consistent manner for bad behaviors. Thank god NC does accept normal corporal punishment. My boys are better for it today!

      • My mom uses a switch.it causes welts,bruises,and sometimes bleeding.is that dicipline or abuse?she thinks the bible says to hit your kids.I attempted suicide once for that.
        One time she found out I cut myself and she beat me with a switch.

        • Sara DePasquale, the author of this post, asked me to post this reply: You may want to read more about parental discipline and abuse in this new post: When Parental Discipline Goes Too Far, It’s Child Abuse (http://civil.sog.unc.edu/when-parental-discipline-goes-too-far-its-child-abuse/). If you believe you are in need of child protective services, you can contact your county department of social services and make a self-report about your situation at home.

        • I’m sorry. Please know that the Bible says Spare the rod Spoil the child. But that doesn’t mean beat your child. I pray that you can overcome your hurt and to not pass it onto your children.

          • The Bible does not say spare the rod and spoil the child. You won’t be able to find that verse it’s not their.

        • That’s abuse and nobody should ever put there hands on a child..

      • To say that “most of” of the people you see in court are the victims of bad, negligent parents that didn’t discipline their child – is an ignorant and “sweeping generalization” Do you work in the court consensus of in the department of logistics for this type of thing? Probably not. But one thing I, myself can concede is – your statements are meant to “justify” your parents physical abuse and your own with your children. Switches and “weapons” are used on insolent donkeys and animals – not
        helpless children. In fundamental Christianity, things are taken literally and out of context. What “Rod” did Moses use to part the Red Sea? A whipping rod? Here’s a better question for you Mr. Peacock … Why didn’t Adam and Eve LITERALLY die when they ate the fruit of the literal tree of the knowledge of good and evil? God said “in the very day you eat of it you shall surely die”. They lived 800 years longer and had 3 kids. Was God the liar?
        or was the story meant to be taken … other than literally? Admit the Truth… and maybe your grandchildren won’t be abused or abuse their children.

        • I agree Lori.

        • Some Christian men read in the Bible that if you beat a child he won’t die. They beat a boy and he died. You know where they ended up. The scripture must have meant something different than they were thinking. The child lost his life. They should have had to lose their life in a painful way also.

      • Amen to that! They have no respect for teachers parents or each other! Generation of kids ruling the parents! Really sad!

    • When a woman gives birth to that beautiful newborn baby they raise it. Why would someone even get the thought to even laying a finger on that child? It’s abuse. Not only that but if that’s how you raise your child, for as long as you are taking care of them they will be afraid of you because I know how it feels to run away from a parent in fear of getting hit. Hitting or putting any physical force on a child is not discipline, it’s just wrong on so many levels. How would you feel if someone were to hit your child because they did something wrong or something that was not right? I’m sure you would feel angry, and I’m not comparing that to the situation where you would hit your child but either way a parent or a stranger hitting a child isn’t right and is unfair to the child. Thankfully in some states there are laws against that but at the same time that law isn’t qualified in other states of America. It doesn’t happen just in America, I know that. It happens everywhere. A lot of parents who use this way of “discipline” also tend to hit their child out of anger which is definitely a red flag. For those who say who say it is the “proper way,” think twice. The proper way would be to take something away that they use and care for (pets isn’t what I mean) like phones. That’s called grounding a child and that’s the way it should be. Yes, grounding does not work on all kids but it’s the right way. It’s way better than hurting a child. Lastly if your those type of parents who hit their child imagine this: you’re really old and your child is taking care of you and a friend comes by who is new to the whole parenting stuff and they ask your kid what did your mom or dad or moms or dads do when you did something bad? They’ll say my mom would hit, spank, whip, slap, punch, or use any other type of force on me. For me, I would feel forever ashamed. By they way this is just my opinion and everyone has one so thanks for reading mine.

      • Be careful about who you let babysit your child also. Find out about how they believe children should be treated. I had a so called friend watch my daughter for half an hour and she abused my child while I was gone. I was shocked. She was a baby still in diapers and she took her diaper off and whipped her with a spatula. It left cuts on her buttocks. She rolled around the floor in pain and scrapped her head. All that because she didn’t want to take a nap. I was gone for half an hour. People can be twisted.

      • My mother hits me in the face with either her hand or her fist and every time I try to talk to the cops they don’t do anything about it and like today she kicked me out and I’m only 15!

  2. Ms. Lane: Why is bare-bottom spanking abuse?

    • The statement “anything else is abuse” is not a fair statement. There are plenty of parents who use something other than their hand to discipline their children and they certainly do not abuse them.

  3. I saw the pictures. I read the narrative. In the Peterson case you have physical injury but it is not serious. Cases #2&3 above required hospitalization. This case did not. Case #1 did not require hospitalization but the defendant there was in an angry rage beating his girlfriend and hit the child on the way to hitting his girlfriend. Little sympathy there. In the Peterson case we have a father disciplining his son and while we might not all agree with the method, we should all be able to agree it is not “serious injury” to the extent he should be convicted of a felony.

    • The child was four. Almost still a baby. You shouldn’t hit an older child that way, much less a four year old. It’s abuse. He deserves what he gets. I know, my son was beat by his father for years for bad behavior. It did not help his behavior and he hates his father. I finally left with him, but I should have done it way sooner. He is scarred emotionally forever. So no corporal punishment to that extreme does not work.

      • Sue Glover I agree with you 100% just last night my son in law smacked my 4 year old granddaughter in the mouth and made her bleed I was so furious and now I know why she don’t want to be with them and wants to be with me…

        • I have a sibling that did this to her 8year old son….so sad, and none of my family gets that this is abuse….

      • I agree.

  4. I don’t believe in hitting children, but don’t necessarily think it’s clear as to what’s abuse and allowable discipline, in essence requiring a balance of various factors. These cases involving pro athletes now create a whole different logic, more based on sponsors sensitive to lost profits not the welfare of children. In juvenile court and criminal court cases courts don’t prohibit the perpetrators from working if they’re not incarcerated and want them working upon release. The typhoon like swell of public opinion about celebrities creates waves that sponsors and associations have to react to (see the penn state scandal where a serial pedophile tragedy became a story about a football coach) With 24 hr media outlets always fanning at the flames of controversy we have sit back a be logical. Peterson can learn from this, as he was raised with this type of discipline, but we don’t have to go crazy to vilify him. I doubt using him as an example will deter others who use the form of discipline.

    • You’re not looking at this from the child’s perspective. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Punishment for the adult will deter the crime. If not they have some marbles missing. They should not get away with that.

  5. Hummm. Interesting comments from ALL here. But, number 1.) You should NEVER strike your child when you’re angry. 2.) All punishment meted out should be explained prior to initiation. 3.) Alternative punishment should be utilized whenever feasible. 4.) Any assault on another with an object becomes aggravated assault, which may and can cause serious bodily harm and/or death, and should lead to jail time for the assailant. I got some VERY serious “butt-whippings” as a child that had little or no effect on me. To be painfully honest, I was a pretty rotten kid. In fact, whippings made me dislike my mother more each time, and exhibit bad behavior more often. Later on in life, as a father I seriously chastised my children, depending upon the types of behavior, whenever necessary, and it was far and few in between. They told me that it was far worse for them to lose privileges than it was to receive corporal punishment, because they could get it over with if the latter was imposed. And, dads should NEVER strike daughters. Sometimes we don’t know our own strength AND it facilitates other men striking our daughters later in life, God forbid. Children should be taught the difference in good and bad behaviors, and consequences thereto. And, moreover, your children should revere (respect) you, not FEAR you. If your children are obedient out of fear, then you’ve already lost the battle of parenting. Fear closes doors of open dialogue. You DO want your kids to come to you with ANYTHING that’s on their minds, don’t you? If they fear you and your reactions to their emotions and activities, then they’ll seek solace elsewhere. Become your child’s closest confidant, don’t shut them out in losing their respect for you.

    • I wish my parents actually cared

    • You’re absolutely right. God himself doesn’t force things on people. He gives choices and is polite to people.

  6. We can’t judge the Peterson case fairly, which only made news due to the father being an NFL player, but trust the mother, doctor, and court acted fairly and for protection of the child.

    Parenting requires doing what is best, and that requires knowing oneself and one’s child. Setting clear, concise and enforceable limits requires wisdom. For me, life and death consequences expanded my discipline options.

    Judiciously used, spanking is effective. Spanking should not be used by a venting, angry parent. I said I would, and did spank my 4 year old child if she went onto the street, into the water, or went out of sight of me in stores. It hurt to do so, but she never ran across the street again. (She had ignored her grandmother’s order to stop running after a dog.) Reasoning via prior talks and rules had failed to stop the impulse. Many times after that we walked to the pavement’s edge and stopped frozen, stating the rule we hoped would never be broken or used. Same with the water.

    Later the rule became ‘stopping & looking both ways’ and finally she was too old to spank (about 12) for she could be reasoned with and had the needed self-discipline. Piaget had it right with the timing of the end of concrete thinking.

  7. My Dad was a career police officer, and the few ” whippings ” I received were disciplined affairs..just the sight of him removing his gun, cuffs, etc. from that gunbelt was enough to put the fear of God in me and the ten strokes were measured..he was never angry..it was justice as he saw it. With my three kids, when they would openly defy my authority or place themselves in danger, all I had to do was go out to my front yard and select a switch from a forsythia bush..the sound of it whipping through the air was half the battle..a few slight strokes on their clothed butts ended any overt rebellion fast. Were there a few pink marks on their lilly white rear ends? likely so, but never would I do this in anger, never break the skin and only do so when they openly defied me and left no option. Small kids do not respect the concept of losing priveleges.

    I would not spank with my hands as in order to inflict enough pain to make the point, one might do internal damage. A sting will not harm a child, and all kids have to know when they have crossed the line into intolerable conduct. I thank God I was raised by calm and disciplined parents, who meted out just punishment when deserved without emotion or anger. My kids, now all grown, will occasionally remark about how the sound of that switch was at least as effective as the few stings they got from it. Parents who rely on talk only do their kids a disservice: in life, at some point the talk ends and only the reailty of a certain negative experience will convince them to change behavior..most important is to not discipline while angry. To paraphrase the Godfather:
    Discipline is a dish best served cold.

    • Most care givers do not punish calmly. Most are angry and it only teaches them to fear you not respect you.

      • True

  8. Sara: I am interested in your opinion on the following: Do you think that this the midemeanor child abuse statutes essentially criminalizes all physical discipline that leaves a mark (welt, red mark), however temporary? If so, how would you reconcile this with a parent’s fundamental constitutional right to the custody, care, and control of their children, including discipline?

    • Certainly a parent is not so small minded as to be unable to find another punishment lacking in effectiveness.

      • Right

  9. Well, there are some Christian groups that advocate severer forms of corporal punishment based on their reading of certain Biblical passages. And anyhow, the afterlife is more valuable than the her and now. But when you find severe marks on the scrotum, I think the punishment actually qualifies as torture under international law, i.e. treaties that the US may also have signed although it lets its secret services get away with a lot by re-interpreting certain passages …

    • True

  10. My son and I have been discussing this. If I were to spank, it would hurt my arthritic hand MUCH more than my 5yr old grandson’s butt. I was advising a rolled up magazine with only reasonable force. It worked for the brief period it was tried. However, my grandson is very skilled at screaming like he has been abused. I KNOW he has not been by my son or me. My grandson has been asked and has responded that no one else has spanked him. My grandson is a good boy, but can be quite rude, especially to his father. (to complicate matters, his father is now a paraplegic) He adores his father. I feel that he is trying to rebel and NEEDS to know that his daddy is still the boss. help – need advice

  11. I would NEVER hit a child. It is pathetic, disgusting and the definition of a bully. If you do not have the self-control or mental capacity to use a means of discipline that actually relates to the unwanted behavior in a meaningful way, then, please, don’t have children.

    • I fully agree with this comment. Physical discipline is the ‘easy way out’, so to speak. There are for more effective, less damaging punitive measures which can be enforced against a child’s behavior, such as the temporary removal of a toy. Additionally, an adequate explanation of why the behavior is poor must accompany any disciplinary action, otherwise a child may easily dismiss it as a parent’s mere aesthetic, that is, an unsupported sort of ‘oh that would be nice in the world’ idea, especially if the child is older than 9.

    • True

  12. so me and my mom got into an argument, she ended up hitting me with 2 wooden spoons, and she bit me. all that ended up leaving 3 bruises and a bite mark. the way all this happened was by me not leaving the house when she kicked me out of my house. I’m 17.

    • Wow, that’s messed up.

  13. What bothers me is how much easier it seems for women to discipline her children like this than a man. If a man does it, he may have the cops called on him a lot easier. However, if the man of the house is disciplining, you can be sure the punishment will stick.

    • My ‘father’ abuses me and no one has reported it, so I don’t see the difference. Too scared to report anyway.

      • please report the abuse for yourself. Honestly, you can make a report completely anonymously. Call the local department of social services. I have reported, no one ever knew. the agency and the police acted, while never letting on who told!

    • To much stereotyping. Not all women are the same and not all men are the same. Abuse is abuse no matter so is doing it.

  14. This may be a bit off subject, but if a 15 year old teen punches the parent to defend her/himself to either prevent or stop a richly-deserved spanking, even if the parent gave or intended to give a “legally” non-abusive spanking, can the parent have the teen legally removed the family home? In other words, do kids have a legal right to strike a parent to defend themselves from a parent’s corporal punishment simply because the kid refuses to accept it; and do parents have the right to remove the kid from the family home unless or until the kid accepts the corporal punishment?

    • Parents have a legal obligation for the safety and raising of their children until they reach the age of 18, so you cannot kick the child out.

      However, a parent can contact police who can do a juvenile petition (it’s the way juveniles care charged in NC instead of the warrant/citation system), which results in a court date for the charges, and any punishment as sentenced by the judge, which can include removal from the home and being sent to various other organizations or group home environments, basically.

      There’s no real immediate way to remove a juvenile from a home of a parent/guardian since the parent/guardian is legally required to care for the juvenile. The court system can mandate removal of a juvenile to another location, but it would be a while before that happens is the short answer.

    • 15 year olds are too old for corporal punishment.

    • Could it be that corporal punishment teaches kids that the strongest person HD right? And we know that just because a person is stronger does’t mean they are right. They could be a bully.

  15. Corporal punishment for children is a tricky thing. A little bit can be a good, but it is easy for a parent to cross the line into abuse. These are just some thoughts I have:

    1. A parent must never discipline when they are angry. I have heard some parents say you should always discipline soon after the child’s offense. I disagree, it should be put off until you are sure you aren’t reacting out of anger.

    2. Single parents are more at risk. If you can discuss this kind of thing with your spouse first, its more likely to lead to a calmer and better outcome.

    3. Its wrong to use an object to spank. The only reason I can come up with for using an object is that you really want to hurt the child. That is abusive to me.

    4. Spanking should only be reserved for the worst or most serious things a child does like running into the street, harming others, or getting into trouble with the law. Offenses like lying, talking back, and sassing parents should be dealt with in another way.

    When my kids were younger, I can count about ten times between all three of them when I felt it was necessary to give a spanking. I always carefully explained why they were getting a whooping. Only when I was sure that they understood why did they get spanked. The only thing I ever did that was controversial was pull down their pants (not underwear). I thought the little shame that caused was a positive thing and served as a reminder to them that they had screwed up. My dh was always there to either support me, or do the spanking himself. The kids always knew we were on the same team.

    It worked for us. My kids grew up to be successful, loving people.

    In short, there is a place for spanking when it comes to discipline, but you have to be really careful.

  16. For all you smart people on this website who think spanking isn’t good for a child, let me tell you my story.

    my child has a tendency to skip school, i have talked to him, taken his internet away, taken his cell phone away, grounded him to his room, and limited his access to certain friends, all over him not going to school.

    now i just got out of jail, because my kid did not go to school, all because in his head he knew i would do nothing to him. the judge threw me in school, not the kid, and he is the one not going, even if i drop him off at school, he just runs out the back door.

    on the other hand, my brother has spanked his kids, and never has any issues like this, nor has he gone to jail, soooooo…….. you all let me know what works and what doesn’t work.

  17. sorry, the judge threw me in jail, not the kid, was supposed to be on the last post i made

  18. Everybody on here is saying what the won’t do. Well I did and I got 3 years probation from whipping my then 9 year old boy. He knew how to manipulate his Father & Stepmother, to the point where everything I did and I said was wrong.He knew how to use the abuse charge against me, by keeping the case worker number at hand, who told him to call her every time he thinks I’m going to beat him( of course she is 23 years old). Throughout grade, middle, & high school he gave me trouble.I had him in football, counciling, church, everything I could and couldn’t afford all with no help from Dad.I had Pastors, Ministers, Lawyers, Coaches all talking & sharing stories with him. At 15 I sent my son with is Father to live with him one week later, my son was calling me to say her kids threatened him with a gun, his father punched him in the face. He had to run to a neighbor’s house to call me & stayed with her overnight. The cops were call by the neighbor the father was arrested but let go. They told the cops he was a troubled child…go figure… They both made a report, but when asked to take him they didn’t have enough room, when asked to come to the court the reply was” We just need someone to watch her” which was me.He was never ever removed from my home, the first month I seen Kathy everyother day. She never talked to me she talked at me. This women never had children didnt know the first thing about raising children, but she had the job fresh out of college. Well the charge stayed. But the end result, he did two years of college with a degree on his belt, now in Military doing well I may add. All this to say every charge is not warranted. He still comes home when he can to his MOTHER. Him & his Dad has very little contact.
    Some kids will try to get away with what they can…

    Yes it was a two parent home at one time. Yes me & his dad was married. No I never held him away from his dad..no never a woman scorned…

  19. Any parent who has driven their child into a state where they feel physical discipline is necessary is not fit for parenting. The decisions a parent makes when raising their child have everything to do with the child’s behavior at all stages in the child’s life until adulthood. None other is to blame for a child’s misbehavior other than the parent, as the parent is the model for all behavior until the child is exposed to a significant number of other people, such as the beginning of prekindergarten. However, even after this exposure the parent remains the primary model for behavior, until the child begins to develop his or her own ability to make totally autonomous, independent decisions, which typically begins just before puberty. The type of disciplinary action used in early childhood is critical to the child’s development. Physical discipline inevitably ends in an angry emotional response. Additionally, physical pain may cause fear of the dispenser of said pain. Repeated instances of physical discipline will effectively train the child to respond with anger or fear in a situation in which “things don’t go their way”, for lack of a better phrase. Such a response is very dangerous, and often spirals, as generally relying on emotional responses to solve problems is ineffective. The ages of ten to twelve are also viewed as a point of no return of sorts by many child psychologists, because early learned behaviors are deeply rooted in neural pathways which become increasingly difficult to alter with age. Further, the childhoods of many criminals bear similarities, such as disturbed home lives in parents abused corporal punishment. Though these home lives are often accompanied by other factors which also contribute to poor development of the child, the abuse of corporal punishment is present in almost every case. A reasonable conclusion is that poor behaviors, which a parent may feel physical discipline is necessary to correct, can be avoided altogether with a raised sense of the parent’s responsibility for their young child’s actions, further supported by an additional awareness of the child’s future actions.

  20. Violence is wrong. Hitting is wrong. Might doesn’t make right. And no case law can ever make that determination. Numerous studies and large amounts of longitudinal data show us that abuse including physical spanking that leaves no marks and only requires simple first aid (???? So I cld punch the local superintendent in the eye and if all he needed after was an ice pack it would be ok????) leaves life long injuries and that people w any abuse but especially physical abuse go on to have problems w depression, anxiety, learning problems, relational problems – not 100% that the data can capture but much more than Wld be expected by prevalence and incidence data and stronger statistical power than is required to draw such conclusions. Studies have shown that even name calling by peers interferes with the development of the brain. Look up what The American Academy of Pediatrics says abt this subject as well as The American
    Academy Child and AdolescentPsychiatry reports and the CDCs reports on prolonged trauma on children etc etc etc. The evidence is irrefutable. And that’s before we discuss issues like if people spank they are initiating a culture of violence in their home and it is easy to do so most then never learn other ways to discipline their children or train them. And no one learns to control anger. It is that simple. And as we watch the increasing rates of bullying and abuse increase dramatically ( including elder abuse which is directly related to whether or not the elder parent physically disciplined the child in childhood. Maybe that will get some folks to pay attention ). Just Bc you think it didn’t hurt you doesn’t mean you didn’t have negative consequences. But the evidence again is irrefutable – it is beyond a reasonable doubt. So I am not sure what it will take for it to become clear and convincing given the preponderance of evidence. I was a strict mom. I didn’t hit my children. We didn’t hit each other. They all turned out brave respectful and kind adult men. Successful as well. Discipline means self discipline to teach by example and it means training. The sparing the rod American Christians like to speak about is at odds with the 23rd psalm. Thy rod and thy staff comfort me. The rod was used to keep sheep from falling off a cliff or to beat away predators etc. Why is it ok to train a child w corporal punishment but not Adults? Who would say that’s ok? No one w sense in their heads or a brain or who just observes and reads. It is amazingly too much stupid that this remains a topic of discussion. It’s not like the tooth fairy. It’s fact.

  21. Whenever the spanking or paddling of a child leaves marks on the child’s buttocks, there’s a good chance that CPS case workers will get involved. I’m not talking about clear cut abusive markings, but CPS opinions of abuse. Historically speaking, do CPS case workers have differnt threshholds for child abuse when the marks on the buttocks resulted from school punishments (where allowed by state law), rather than from parental discipline?

    Stated differently and more simplistically, do the “records” show that CPS allows school officials to mark a child’s buttock more severely than mom’s or dad’s markings before a finding of abuse is rendered?

    From another angle, when issues of abuse are adjudicated, do court records show a higher acquital percentage for school officials than for parents?

  22. I was spanked plenty as a child (bare butt with a belt) as were my siblings and, later, my son. He’s now 19 and is grateful for how we disciplined him, as my siblings and I are grateful to our parents. Kids know when a spanking is given in a loving way or not.

    • If you are so aware of this punishment being helpful, then I don’t think that the spanking was necessary. The spanking did not teach you how to understand that it was helpful, and to be honest I think you were influenced by the power of suggestion.

  23. Hitting any child is ridiculous and abuse in itself. Hitting means there is no other way but to lay a hand on someone. I was raised and the eldest of 9 boys and 1 girl and we were never hit. Punishment\discipline consisted of (varying as we grew in age): 1. sitting, 2. sitting and reading, or drawing, 3. education, 4. and one crazy thing my dad did I thought was extreme– I would not like to sit and stay seated until I asked or was allowed to get up. My dad used his belt to strap me into chair until I conceded then started asking “may i get up now daddy.” That had taken all of about hour he told me. I was 4 years old then. Was this extreme? I don’t think so now. And I recall how much fun we had that day. Another time at 7 he heard me speak inappropriate word. Here he stuck one of those Mexican super hot peppers in my mouth while he held my mouth closed for 1-2 min. To this very day, age 61, what a beautiful language we have without serving up inappropriate words. 🙂 Unfortunately, I love those hot-peppers now.

  24. […] news. I wrote about what I thought would happen to him here in NC for on our Criminal Law Blog: Parental Discipline: When Is It Abuse and/or a Crime? Since I wrote that post, the NC Court of Appeals published its first opinions interpreting the […]

  25. I want to know if you think its ok to pinch a male childs pecks as a form of discipline. Where the child crys and wiggles around rubbing it.

  26. Ok-my 7 year old son was told by my husband (his daddy) that if he got in trouble at school one more time for bad behaviour, he would get a whopping -spanking-well he did, and my husband spanked him, but my son jumped around so much during the spanking that my husband’s hand hit his lower back above his bottom, and did leave a bruise there….I am pissed off,even if it was an accident and am fearful that DHR services may see that as neglect.And Even though I know it wasn’t intentional, I am still upset. My son is fine, but I am in (Mama-dog) mode

  27. I just watched some sow smack a 5 year old kid with a large serving spoon over and over at a Panera. This went on for over 20 minutes with multiple breaks, Not Nonstop. No one else in the place seemed to think it was out of line and when I spoke to the manager, he threatened to throw me out if I interfered. “The kid was acting up.”

    While granted, she was not killing the kid, she was terrorizing him without stop.
    I am not anti-spanking, but I am anti-meltdown spanking and this sow was having a meltdown.

    1. No kid should be hit repeatedly.
    2. No scene in a public place. It ramps things up too much.
    3. Count to 100 and calm yourself down. You out of control is not a good thing.
    4. Make sure the kid is not acting up because of illness. Little kids only
    convey thing a few different ways. Quit treating them like Mini-adults.
    I can’t tell you how many times I have seen jerks throwing a fit with an
    obviously sick child. And remember just because you have to handle a twelve
    hour hectic day, doesn’t mean your child can handle it as well.
    5. In the event your child actually is a 24/7 misbehaving Spawn of Satan, get some
    professional help. There may be something medical or Psyiological or Emotional
    behind the behavior.
    Kids react to Surroundings, Food and other stimuli far different than adults do.

  28. Disclaimer: I am a 13 year old kid so my writing here is probably not going to be top notch. This didn’t take me very long as I am a very strong believer and knew what to say as I was writing it.

    I think that it is horrible for a parent to physically injure a child no matter what occurred. A spanking is not the correct way to inflict a punishment on your child, as any pain is temporary and if permanent then it is considered abusive. A much more effective way to discipline your child is to “ground” the child or take away something that they really enjoy. Examples include: A videogame, time out with friends, a sport, a bike, or really anything that they enjoy doing and could do for hours. While a spanking is short lasting, and you rarely notice it a little after, loosing the privilege to do something that you enjoy doing (for something like a week) will teach kids to follow the rules. If a kid wants something as in a new bike or computer ETC, and you refuse this, the argument should not just end there. If you as a parent simply say something like, “Because I said so” or “Don’t talk back” or even “Because I am the parent and you are the child” your child will NEVER learn better. Not only does a child deserve an explanation, but a conversation on the topic will actually convince your child to accept your answer.

    *What you do not want to do:*

    Child: “Mom, can I please buy this video game”?

    Mom: “No”.

    Child: “But why, it is only $10”!

    Mom: “Because I said so”.

    Child: “Is that your only reason why I can’t get this game”?

    Mom: “Don’t talk back to me”

    The mother in this example is using only authority, which is not going to get your child anywhere. Something that I experienced a lot as as a child is that dreaded common phrase: “Don’t talk back to me”. This got me so upset as a kid as I found no logic and no reasoning in that phrase. If a parent asks you a question that only has an answer that may offend them, what do you do? If you decide to answer them truthfully, you get a spankin’. If you don’t answer them at all, you get a spankin’. If you decide to tell them why you would rather not answer, they demand you answer and then when you do… you get a spankin’. So the child finds that the only way to answer this question without getting punished is by lying. And what do you know; when you lie to a parent, what do you think you receive. That’s right, a good o’l spankin’. I believed and still do believe that for these reasons, “Don’t talk back to me” is a terrible way of answering your child. I realize that I am probably getting off topic, but I want to prove my point.

    *What you should do instead:*

    Child: “Mom, can I please buy this game”.

    Mom: “No”.

    Child: “But why, it’s only 10 dollars”!

    Mom: “You have to realize that you don’t always get what you want in life. If you begin spending all of your money on what you want now, you will not have any money to support yourself and give yourself what you need later on. If I spent $10 every day for things like plushies, I would not be able to have food on my table or a car to move around in”.

    Give your child some time to think about what you said. For other situations unlike this, you may want to prove to yourself that you are right since you answered “No” so confidently. Instead of getting agitated at your child’s curiosity, embrace it and consider their side of the story. For other situations you may find that your child makes a valid point and that it may be better to arrange a deal or a change in rules for the greater good.

    Now onto my last point that I think is very important to take notice of. If you create rules (which is a big step towards proper parenting), you often want to enforce these rules. You want your child to respect the rules and follow them because they should influence your child positively. The biggest mistake that parents make when enforcing rules is when you as a parent break those rules that you made. If these rules control the children, it is only fair that you follow the rules as well. Otherwise, your parental system is basically a monarchy which ended many centuries ago. You must follow your own rules as your child will always look up to you and follow in your foot steps. It is the same concept of how humans came to creating language and sounds that they could produce. They copy the sounds of their surroundings, and add them together to make new sounds.

    “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless” -L.R. Knost

    “Great leaders never accept the world as it was and always work for the world as it should be” -Condoleezza Rice

    I made this one up myself using some other quotes to help guide me: “Do not try to break the rules but merely test their fidelity” -Me

    I hope that if you are a parent reading this you find this helpful because I hope that this changes how some children are treated. I put some time into this as I saw that people in the comments section simply complained or told a story. I just decided to go into detail, so if you read this all the way to the end, thank you for your time. Goodbye for now (sorry for any grammatical or spelling mistakes, I’m only 13).

  29. The best way to discipline a child is to talk to them. Then set up a non-physical punishment. Spanking, not BEATING, should only be used when necessary.

  30. So it’s okay to spank a child with a 2×4 till it breaks?

  31. I only spank my kids when necessary and after grounding or standing in the corner hasn’t helped, the other day me and my 4 kids were at Wal-Mart and my oldest son age 9 was repeatedly taking things off the shelves, he opened some nail polish and dropped it causing it to splatter all over the aisle, and after I repeatedly told him to stop he only continued, when we were checking out he started taking candy of the shelves so I told him he is standing in the corner when we got home for not listening, we got out to the van and on the way home and started kicking the van of the seats. Once we got home I stood him in the corner and he started moving and hitting the walls so I decided he was getting spanked for it. I have a ton of patience and never take my anger out in my children. We went to his room to spank him and I use a belt only bc my son laughs when he is spanked and using my hand only hurts me and he thinks it’s funny, he laid over his bed and I told him he was getting 4 spankens, I only spank on the bottom, after two swats he started to get up as I was spanked him the third time and I accidentally hit the back of his thigh and when he moved his body got closer to the belt than intended so the hit was a little harder than expected and it left a welt on this leg, I apologized and told him it was an accident bc he moved. I went to my room and cried bc that had never happened before, the next day it was a small bruise. He went to school and told his counselor I left a bruise on him and she reported it to cps and I am now being investigated. Can I please get input on this situation? I would never abuse my children.. Has this ever happened to anyone before?

  32. My daughter in law slapped my 3 year old grandson in the mouth for saying the word ain’t, I immediately told her she shouldn’t have done that and it almost caysed a fight between us. She screamed at me that he was her child and she would do whatever she wanted to to him. Ever since I have been extremely worried that she abuses my grandson since it was so easy for her to slap him and given the reason she slapped him. Would slapping a 3 year old in the mouth be considered abuse?

  33. I have a question. What happens if your 16 year old punches her mom in the face several times with her fists just because the mom was getting ready to spank her

  34. IF WE BEAT CHILDREN FOR DOING WRONG AND WE HAVE THAT POWER, THEN IT IS NOT THAT WE WANT THE CHILD TO DO BETTER BUT WE BEAT THE CHILD BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT OBEY US. BECAUSE NO ONE HERE IS EVEN ASKING HOW DOES A CHILD’S BRAIN DEVELOPED. WHY DO THEY FORGET SO SOON. I THINK THIS IS WHY MEN BEAT WOMEN ALSO. BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT OBEY HER MAN. I THINK THIS IS WHY OLD PEOPLE WHO CAN’T THINK OR REASON WELL GET HIT IN NURSING HOMES ALSO. IT’S ALL ABOUT POWER. A HUMAN BEING IS ENVELOPING FROM BIRTH TILL THE DAY THEY DIE THEY WILL MAKE MISTAKES. IF WE BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A GOD WE SHOULD TEACH HIS CHILDREN THE WAY HE WOULD. I DO NOT BELIEVE A CHILD HAS TO BE HIT.

  35. Ok so my parents don’t hit me but I can’t leave my house unless I’m going to school, my parents constantly say things like “you have an ugly laugh” “you don’t have a boyfriend because your fat (at 5’4 I’m 95 pounds!)” and I can’t have my money, which I actually had a job to earn, and they threaten to destroy my stuff, which I bought with the money I hid so that I could have things of my own. Oh and when my parents found I out I was a cutter and I had attempted suicide they yelled “Get the fuck out of my house I can’t handle the person you are.” I hate coming home from school and I’m looking to get legally emancipated but I don’t know if I have a case that could work.

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