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Differentiating child abuse from parental corporal punishment and reasonable parental discipline.

KEY:
Ci = Civil Child Protection/Child Welfare/Juvenile Court Statutes
Cr = Criminal Child Abuse/Neglect/Endangerment/Justification for Use of Force Statute

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California
Colorado Conneticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida
Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana
Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi
Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire
New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota
Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Texas Tennessee Utah
Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin
Wyoming

For further information, please visit: http://www.calib.com/nccanch/services/statutes.htm

ALABAMA

Parent/guardian/person responsible for care and supervision of a minor may use reasonable and appropriate physical force when and to the extent he reasonably believes it necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or promote welfare of the child. Sec. 13A-3-24. [Cr.]

ALASKA

Force is justified when and to the extent reasonably necessary and appropriate to promote a child's welfare. Parent/guardian/other person with care and supervision of child under 18 may use reasonable and appropriate non-deadly force upon the child. Sec. 11.81.430.[Cr.]

ARIZONA

Parent/guardian may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor when and to the extent reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline. Sec. 13-403.[Cr.]

ARKANSAS

Abuse does not include physical discipline of a child if reasonable and moderate and inflicted by a parent or guardian for restraining or correcting a child. Reasonable or moderate physical discipline does not include: throwing, kicking, burning, biting, cutting, striking with a closed fist, shaking a child under 3, striking a child under 6 on the face, interfering with a child's breathing, or any other act that is likely to cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks. [Statute says this is an illustrative and not exclusive list]. Age, size, condition of the child, and the location of the injury and frequency or recurrence of injuries shall be considered in determining "reasonable" or "moderate." Sec. 9-27-303(3).[Ci.] Parent/guardian/other with care and supervision of a minor may use reasonable and appropriate physical force when and to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain discipline or promote the welfare of the child. Sec. 5-2-605(l).[Cr.] If the belief that the force is necessary is a reckless or negligent belief, or an excessive degree of physical force is used, then the above offers no defense to a crime if the culpability of that crime is proven by showing recklessness or negligence. Justification is not available if person recklessly or negligently injured or created a substantial risk of injury to a person. Sec. 5-2-614.[Cr.]

CALIFORNIA

Law not intended to prohibit the use of reasonable methods of parental discipline, or to prescribe a particular method of parenting. Serious physical harm does not include reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of serious physical injury. Welf. and Inst. Code Sec. 300. [Ci.] Abuse includes physical injury to a child inflicted by other than accidental means as well as unlawful corporal punishment or injury. Penal Code Sec. 11165.6.[Cr.] "Unlawful corporal punishment or injury" is any person willfully inflicting upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition. Penal Code Sec. 11165.4.[Cr.]

COLORADO

Any investigation of child abuse shall take into account the child-rearing practices of the child's culture. Child abuse and neglect does not include acts which can be reasonably construed to be a reasonable exercise of parental discipline. Sec. 19-1-103(b).[Ci.] A continued pattern of conduct which results in cruel punishment or accumulation of injury which results in death or serious bodily injury is child abuse. Sec. 18-6-

401.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/ person with care and supervision of minor can use reasonable and appropriate physical force, if it is reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain or promote welfare of child. Sec. 18-1-703.[Cr.]

CONNECTICUT

It is abuse if having control and custody of a child under sixteen (16) one cruelly or unlawfully punishes. Sec. 53-20.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/person with care and supervision of a minor may use reasonable physical force, when and to the extent that he reasonably believes necessary to maintain discipline or promote welfare of minor. Sec. 53a-18.[Cr.]

DELAWARE

Force is justifiable if reasonable and moderate and by parent/guardian/foster parent/legal custodian/other similar person responsible for care and supervision. Force must be - for purpose of safeguarding or promoting welfare of child, including prevention or punishment of misconduct, and - intended to benefit child. Reasonable and moderate is determined in light of: size, age, and condition of child, location, strength, and duration of force. Force is not justified if it consists of: Throwing child, kicking, burning, cutting, striking with a closed fist, interfering with breathing, use of or threatened use of deadly weapon, prolonged deprivation of sustenance or medication, any act likely to cause or causing physical injury, disfigurement, mental distress, unnecessary degradation or substantial risk of serious physical injury or death. Criminal Sec. 468.[Cr.]

DIStrICT OF COLUMBIA

Abuse includes excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 6-2101.[Ci.] Abuse includes when a parent/guardian/custodian inflicts or fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent the infliction of physical or mental injury, including excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 16-2301.[Ci.]

FLORIDA

Corporal discipline of a child by a parent/legal custodian does not, in itself, constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child. Sec. 39.01(2). [Ci.] "Harm" to a child occurs when the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental, or emotional injury. The following factors must be considered in evaluating any injury: prior injuries; location; multiplicity; and type of trauma. Such injuries include, but are not limited to willful acts that produce the following specific injuries: sprains, dislocations, or cartilage damage; bone or skull fractures; brain or spinal cord damage; intracranial hemorrhage or injury to other internal organs; asphyxiation, suffocation, or drowning; injury resulting from the use of a deadly weapon; burns or scalding; cuts, lacerations, punctures, or bites; permanent or temporary disfigurement; or permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a body part or function. "Willful" refers to the intent to perform an action, not to achieve a particular result or an intent to cause an injury. Sec. 39.01(30). [Ci.]

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GEORGIA

Physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child. Secs. 19-7-5/ 19-15-1/49-5-180.[Ci.] Parent or person in loco parentis reasonably disciplining of a minor has a justification defense for a criminal prosecution based on that conduct. Sec. 16-3-20.[Cr.] The term "family violence" shall not be deemed to include reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention. Sec. 19-13-1. [Ci.]

HAWAII

Parent/guardian/person responsible for general care and supervision of minor/person acting at request of above may use force if. -- employed with due regard for age and size of minor and reasonably related to purpose of safeguarding or promoting welfare of minor, including prevention or punishment of minor's conduct, and -- not designed to cause or known to create a risk of causing substantial bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, mental distress, or neurological damage. Sec. 703-309.[Cr.]

IDAHO

Abuse includes physical cruelty in excess of that required for reasonable disciplinary purposes, inflicted by a parent or other person in whom legal custody is vested. Sec. 16-2002.[Ci.]

ILLINOIS

An "abused child" includes any child whose parent/immediate family member/person responsible for the child's welfare/individual residing in the same house/paramour of child's parent inflicts excessive corporal punishment. Secs. 325 5/3/ [Ci.]

INDIANA

Law does not limit right of parent/guardian/custodian to use reasonable corporal punishment when disciplining a child. Sec. 31-34-1-15.[Ci.]

IOWA

The use of corporal punishment by the person responsible for the care of a child, which does not result in a physical injury to the child shall not be considered abuse (unless otherwise prohibited). Sec. 232.71B. [Ci.] Child endangerment includes using unreasonable force, torture, or cruelty which results in physical injury, is intended to cause serious injury, or causes substantial mental or emotional harm. Sec. 726.6.[Cr.]

KANSAS

Abuse of a child is intentionally torturing, cruelly beating, or shaking, which results in great bodily harm including cruel and inhuman corporal punishment upon any child. Sec. 21-3609.[Cr.]

KENTUCKY

Criminal abuse includes intentional abuse caused by cruel punishment to a child under 12 by person who has actual custody or permitting a child to be abused. Sec. 508.100. [Cr.] Parent/guardian/person with care and supervision of minor can use force if person believes force necessary for welfare of child and force is not designed to cause or known to cause a substantial risk of causing death, serious physical injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, or extreme mental distress. Sec. 503.110.[Cr.]

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LOUISIANA

In determining abuse the agency should take into account that an injury may have resulted from what might be considered reasonable discipline for a child's misbehavior. Children's Code Art. 615(A).[Ci.] Parent reasonably disciplining a minor has a justification defense to a criminal prosecution based on that conduct. Sec. 14:18. [Cr.]

MAINE

Parent/foster parent/guardian or other similar person responsible for the long term general care and welfare of a person is justified in using a reasonable degree of force against such person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes necessary to prevent or punish such person's misconduct. Justification does not extend to purposeful or reckless use of force that creates a substantial risk of death, serious bodily harm, or extraordinary pain. 17-A Sec. 106. [Cr.]

MARYLAND

Law does not prohibit reasonable punishment by parent or stepparent, including reasonable corporal punishment, evaluated in light of the age and condition of child. Sec. 4-501.[Ci.]

MASSACHUSETTS

Reasonable corporal punishment by a parent is not prohibited. Excessive corporal punishment determined by statutory definition of abuse. Actual injury and substantial risk of injury, as defined by statute, considered abuse not reasonable corporal punishment. Cobble v. Commissioner of Dept. of Social Services, 719 N.E.2d 500 (Mass. 1999) "Abuse" is the non-accidental commission of any act by a caretaker upon a child which causes, or creates a substantial risk of physical or emotional injury. Physical injury defined as fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, burns, impairment of any organ, any other such nontrivial injury, or soft tissue swelling or skin bruising depending upon such factors as the child's age, circumstances under which the injury occurred and the number and location of bruises. 110 Sec. 2 [Ci.]

MICHIGAN

Parent/guardian/other person permitted by law, or authorized by parent, or guardian can take steps to reasonably discipline a child, including the use of reasonable force. Sec. 750.136b.[Cr.]

MINNESOTA

Parent/legal guardian/caretaker who intentionally uses unreasonable force or cruel discipline that is excessive under the circumstances is guilty of malicious punishment. Sec. 609.377.[Cr.] Parent/legal guardian/caretaker of child can use reasonable force to restrain or correct a child. Sec. 609.379.[Cr.]

MISSISSIPPI

Physical discipline, including spanking, performed on a child by a parent, guardian, or custodian, in a reasonable manner shall not be deemed abuse. Sec. 43-21-105.[Ci.]

MISSOURI

Discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, is not abuse. Sec. 210.110. [Ci.] Force justified if by parent/guardian/other person entrusted with care and supervision of minor if- -- Person believes force necessary to promote welfare of minor, and -- Force used is not designed to cause or believed to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious 000physical injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, or extreme emotional distress. Sec. 563.061.[Cr.]

MONTANA

Parent or authorized agent of parent/guardian/master/teacher is justified to use force if reasonable and necessary to restrain or correct child. Sec. 45-3-107.[Cr.]

NEBRASKA

It is abuse to knowingly, intentionally, or negligently cause or permit a child to be cruelly punished. Sec. 28-710.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/person responsible for care and supervision/person acting at one of the above's request is justified to use force on a minor if for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of minor, including prevention or punishment of misconduct, but not designed to cause or known to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious bodily harm, disfigurement, extreme pain, mental distress, or gross degradation. Sec. 28-1413.[Cr.] If the belief that the force is necessary is a reckless or negligent belief, then the above offers no defense to a crime, if the culpability of that crime is proven by showing recklessness or negligence. Justification is not available if person recklessly or negligently injured or created a substantial risk of injury to a person. Sec. 28-1414.[Cr.]

NEVADA

A child abuse investigation is not warranted if the agency determines that the alleged abuse was the result of the reasonable exercise of discipline by a parent or guardian involving the use of corporal punishment, including, without limitation, spanking or paddling; and corporal punishment so administered was not so excessive as to constitute abuse. Sec. 432B.260.[Ci.] Excessive corporal punishment may cause physical or mental injuries, which constitute abuse. Sec. 432B.150.[Ci.] "Injury" to a child occurs when a parent/guardian/custodian inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon a child physical, mental, or emotional injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 128.013.[Ci.]

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Parent/guardian/person/teacher responsible for general care and welfare of minor may use force against minor when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent or punish minor's misconduct. No defense available for malicious or reckless use of force that creates risk of death, serious bodily injury, or substantial pain. Sec. 627:6.[Cr.]

NEW JERSEY

Cruelty to a child includes inflicting unnecessarily severe corporal punishment upon a child. Sec. 9:6-1.[Ci.] "Abuse" includes a parent, guardian, or other person with control or custody inflicting excessive corporal punishment (which must be excessive to the point that the child's physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result). Sec. 9:6-8.9.[Ci.] Person entrusted with special responsibility for care, supervision, discipline, or safety of another may use force against them if for the purpose of and to the extent necessary to further the responsibility. Sec. 2C:3-8. [Cr.] Justification is not available if the person recklessly or negligently injures or creates a risk of injury. Sec. 2C: 3-9.[Cr.]

NEW MEXICO

An abused child includes one who has been cruelly punished by a parent/ guardian/ custodian. Sec. 32A-4-2(B).[Ci.] Abuse includes knowingly, intentionally, or negligently permitting or causing a child to be cruelly punished. Sec. 30-6-1.[Cr.]

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NEW YORK

Neglecting a child includes unreasonably inflicting or allowing the infliction of harm or substantial risk thereof, including excessive corporal punishment. Fam. Ct. Sec. 1012.[Ci.] Parent/guardian/other person with care and supervision of person under 21, can use non-deadly physical force when and to the extent he reasonably believes necessary to maintain discipline or promote welfare of person force performed upon. Penal Sec. 35:10.[Cr.]

NORTH CAROLINA

"Abused juvenile" is any juvenile under 18 whose parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker inflicts or allows to be inflicted by other than accidental means a serious physical injury or uses or allows to be used cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or cruel or grossly inappropriate devices to modify behavior. Juvenile Code Sec. 7B-101.

NORTH DAKOTA

"Harm" includes injuries sustained from excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 50-25.1-02.[Ci.] Parent/guardian/other person (not including school district employee) responsible for care and supervision of minor/person acting at direction of the above can use reasonable force on a minor for safeguarding or promoting his welfare, including prevention or punishment of his misconduct and maintenance of proper discipline. Force does not have to be "necessary," but cannot create substantial risk of death, serious bodily injury or disfigurement, or gross degradation. Sec. 12.1-05-05.[Cr.]

OHIO

"Abused child" includes one who exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury or death, inflicted by other than accidental means, or any injury or death which is at variance with the history given of it. Except a child exhibiting evidence of corporal punishment or other physical disciplinary measure by a parent/guardian/custodian/person having custody or control/or person in loco parentis of a child is not an abused child. Sec. 2151.031.[Ci.] It is a criminal act to administer corporal punishment or other physical discipline, or to physically restrain the child in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period if it is excessive under the circumstances and creates a substantial risk of serious physical harm to the child. It is a criminal act to administer unwarranted disciplinary measures to child if there is a substantial risk that if conduct iscontinued it will seriously impair the child's health or development. Sec. 2919.22.[Cr.]

OKLAHOMA

Parents/other persons can use ordinary force as a means of discipline, including but not limited to spanking, switching, or paddling. 21 Sec. 844.[Cr.]

OREGON

Physical force is justified if parent/guardian/other person with the care and supervision of a minor uses reasonable force when and to the extent the person reasonably believes necessary to maintain discipline or promote welfare of minor. Sec. 161.205. [Cr.]

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PENNSYLVANIA

Parents can use reasonable supervision and control when raising their children. 23 Sec. 6302.[Ci.] Parent/guardian/person responsible for general care and supervision/ person acting at request of the above may use force for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting welfare of minor including the prevention or punishment of his misconduct, and if the force is not designed to cause or known to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, mental distress, or gross degradation. 18 Sec. 509.[Cr.]

RHODE ISLAND

Abuse occurs when a child's physical or mental welfare is harmed or threatened by a parent or person responsible for child's welfare, by means including excessive corporal punishment which causes physical or mental injury or creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of physical or mental injury. Sec. 40-11-2.[Ci.] Serious physical injury is Any injury, other than a serious bodily injury, arising from other than non-excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 11-9-5.3. [Cr.]

SOUTH CAROLINA

"Harm" includes inflicting or allowing to be inflicted physical or mental injury sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment. "Harm" does not include corporal punishment or physical discipline if- Administered by a parent or person acting in place of a parent, Perpetrated for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting, Force is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree, There is no permanent damage, and Behavior of parent is not reckless or grossly negligent. Sec. 20-7-490.[Ci.] Corporal punishment of a child or physical discipline administered by a parent or person in loco parentis in a manner which does not cause great bodily injury is not prohibited. Sec. 16-3-95.[Ci.]

SOUTH DAKOTA

It is abuse to cruelly punish. Sec. 26-10-1.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/teacher/school official can use, attempt, or offer to use force if reasonable in manner and moderate in degree, and used to restrain or correct as necessitated by misconduct or refusal to obey a lawful command. Sec. 22-18-5 [Cr.]

TENNESSEE

Permits criminal charges against a parent/guardian/custodian who administers "unreasonable" corporal punishment, which causes "injury" to the child. Sec. 39-15-401 [Cr.] Severe child abuse includes the knowing use of force on a child that is likely to cause great bodily harm or death. Sec. 37-1-102 [Cr.]

TEXAS

Abuse does not include reasonable discipline by a parent/guardian/managing or possessory conservator if child not exposed to substantial risk of harm. Family Code Sec. 261.001.[Ci.] Parent/stepparent/person standing in loco parentis to child is justified to use non-deadly force against a child under 18 when and to degree the actor reasonably believes necessary to discipline, or safeguard or promote child's welfare. Penal Sec. 9.61.[Cr.]

UTAH

Force is justified if used for reasonable discipline of a minor by parent/guardian/person standing in loco parentis. Defense not available if caused serious bodily injury or death. Sec. 76-2-401.[Cr.]

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VERMONT

Parent has a right to inflict corporal punishment on a child subject to his disciplinary control when motivated by a corrective purpose and not by anger, when not inflicted upon frivolous pretenses, when it is not excessive or otherwise unreasonably inflicted, and when it is not cruel or merciless. State v. Martin, 751 A.2d 769 (Vt., 2000)

VIRGINIA

Excessive, unreasonable, or cruel punishment is unlawful. A parent has the right to administer such reasonable and timely punishment as may be necessary to correct faults in children. The right cannot be used as a cloak for the exercise of malevolence or the exhibition of uncontrolled passion on the part of the parent. Punishment must be within the bounds of moderation and reason and for the welfare of child, if due moderation is exceeded then parent is criminally liable. The age, size and conduct of child will be considered as well as the instrument used for punishment and the kind of marks or wounds inflicted on the child's body. Carpenter v. Commonwealth, 44 S.E.2d 419 (Va., 1947)

WASHINGTON

Reasonable parental discipline which does not injure child's health, welfare, and safety, including reasonable use of corporal punishment as a means of discipline is not prohibited. Sec. 26.44.015.[Ci.] Physical discipline is not unlawful if reasonable and moderate and inflicted by parent /guardian for restraint or correction. Presumed unreasonable if the following are used to correct/ restrain: -- Throwing, kicking, burning, cutting, striking with a closed fist, shaking a child under 3, interfering with breathing, threatening with a deadly weapon, any other act likely to cause and which does cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks. [Statute says this list is illustrative and not exclusive]. Age, size, condition of child, and location of injury are all factors in determining "reasonable" and "moderate." Sec. 9A.16.100.[Cr.]

WEST VIRGINIA

Physical injury can include that which is the result of excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 49-1-3 [Ci.]

WISCONSIN

Use of force is justified when actor's conduct is reasonable discipline of a child by a person responsible for child's welfare. Reasonable discipline may involve only such force as a reasonable person believes is necessary. Never reasonable to use force intended to cause great bodily harm or death, or which creates an unreasonable risk of great bodily harm or death. Sec. 939.45.[Cr.]

WYOMING

Abuse means inflicting or causing physical or mental injury to a child other than by accidental means including by excessive or unreasonable corporal punishment. Physical injury means any harm to a child including, but not limited to, disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ, skin bruising if greater in magnitude than minor bruising associated with reasonable corporal punishment, bleeding, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hemotoma or substantial malnutrition. Sec. 14-3-202.[Ci.] A "neglected child" includes one abused by the infliction of physical or mental injury including excessive or unreasonable corporal punishment. Sec. 14-3-402.[Ci.] Same definition as civil abuse definition - definition of physical injuries excludes those as a result of reasonable corporal punishment. Sec. 6-2-503.[Cr.]

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Prepared by: Center for Children and the Law
American Bar Association
Howard Davidson, Director
Washington, DC

 

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT-STATE STATUTE ANALYSIS

SPECIFICALLY ALLOWS FOR SPANKING - The terms spanking (or paddling/switching) are used to permit these forms of corporal punishment, if administered in a reasonable manner:
California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma

REASONABLE AND NECESSARY STANDARD IMPOSED - Reasonable physical force is permitted when, and to the extent believed necessary, to maintain discipline:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana and New Hampshire
Oregon South Dakota Texas Wisconsin

AGE AND CONDITION OF THE CHILD MUST BE CONSIDERED - Corporal punishment will be evaluated in light of the age and the condition of the child:
Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland and Washington

SPECIFIC ACTS ARE LISTED THAT WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS LAWFUL IF INFLICTED AS PART OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT:
Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Montana, Washington and Wyoming

THE USE OF CRUEL OR INHUMAN CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IS PROHIBITED:
California, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico,North Carolina, Ohio and South Dakota

EXCESSIVE CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IS NOT ALLOWED - Acts are prohibited when they are excessive under the circumstances:
District of Columbia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming

"NO PHYSICAL INJURY" or "NO SUBSTANTIAL RISK OF PHYSICAL INJURY" LIMITATION IS PLACED ON THE USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT:
Georgia, Iowa

NO SERIOUS or SUBSTANTIAL BODILY INJURY LIMITATION IS PLACED ON THE USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT - Does not specifically prohibit physical injury through corporal punishment, but just a serious injury:
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin

"NON-DEADLY FORCE" LIMITATION IS PLACED ON THE USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT - Does not specifically prohibit corporal punishment, even where it results in an injury or serious injury to the child, as long as deadly force was not utilized:
Alaska, New York, Texas

Prepared by:
American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law
Howard Davidson, Director
740 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

 

Model for Banning Corporal Punishment of Children in All Settings, Including Homes

(Introduced in Wisconsin 1991-1992)

Corporal Punishment of Children.

  1. In this section, "corporal punishment" means the intentional infliction of physical pain as a means of discipline. "Corporal punishment" includes, but is not limited to, any of the following when used as a means of discipline:
    1. Paddling
    2. Spanking
    3. Slapping
    4. Prolonged maintenance of physically uncomfortable positions
  2. Except as provided in sub. (3), no person responsible for a child's welfare may subject the child to corporal punishment.
  3. Subsection (2) does not prohibit a person responsible for a child's welfare from:
    1. Using reasonable and necessary force to obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object within a child's control.
    2. Using reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance that threatens physical injury to any person.
    3. Using reasonable and necessary force for the purpose of self-defense or the defense of others under s. [XX].
    4. Using reasonable and necessary force to prevent the child from inflicting harm on himself or herself.
    5. Using incidental or minor physical contact designed to maintain order and control.
  4. This section does not create a separate basis for civil liability, including liability under s. [XX], of a person responsible for a child's welfare for damages arising out of a claim involving allegations of improper or unnecessary use of force against a child by a person responsible for the child's welfare.

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