Criminal Law

NY Appeals Court Clarifies That A Parent Can Still Spank A Child

If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say “The problem with kids today is that you can;t spank them anymore” or “God forbid if you spanked your child nowadays, they lock you  up”  etc etc, I would be buying a home next to Bill Gates. The  common belief that a parent can no longer spank their child is another of  the common legal myths that the general; public seems to latch onto like “the police have to read you your rights whenever you are arrested” or “an undercover cop has to tell you he’s a cop if you ask him.”

SPANKINGWell today,the Second Department,  a NY Appellate Court covering Queens, Brooklyn,Staten Island  Long Island and some upstate counties,reversed a Suffolk County Family Court judge’s decision finding a father in neglect of his child for spanking him with an open hand. The Dad had been charged with neglect and dragged into Family Court after he was reported for child abuse when his 8 year old son told teachers that his Dad had spanked him for cursing at an adult. The boy later also claimed his Dad hit him with a belt. The father admitted that he spanked his son on the buttocks and legs but denied using a belt.  Judge Richard Hoffman found that there was no evidence to support the allegation that a belt was used, but still found the parent in neglect for using his open hand on the child.

In reversing Judge Hoffman ( giving him a legal spanking if you will) a unanimous Appellate Division stated that

[P]arents have a right to use reasonable force against a child in order to maintain discipline or to promote the child’s welfare,[although]  the use of excessive corporal punishment constitutes neglect. Parents have a right to the reasonable use of force as means of discipline or ensuring their welfare,

I am thankful the court put this myth to bed. Hopefully, less people will think that spanking is illegal. While my wife and I never used corporal punishment raising our three boys, the law is clear that parents have a right to discipline their child as they see fit as long as they don’t do so in an excessive manner or cause injury. This court’s decision does not say where the line is as to what constitutes “excessive” corporal punishment so it must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Here, the court  held that a few open-handed spanks were permissible discipline for cursing at an adult.  So if you want to use corporal punishment, then keep this motto in mind: ” Spare the rod, use the hand..”
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One reply on “NY Appeals Court Clarifies That A Parent Can Still Spank A Child”

I’m glad the illustrative image shows a traditional, over-the-knee spanking being given on the child’s bare bottom. A bare bottom spanking sends the clearest possible message of parental/adult disapproval, enabling the critical corrective elements of shame and pain to teach the child an important lesson in Actions & Consequences.

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