Posted on | January 27, 2011 | 1 Comment
The propriety of corporal punishment is an increasingly controversial subject. An Iowa case points out that, “Not many years ago children were disciplined in homes and at school by spanking them with rulers, sticks, and belts, and that this type of discipline was not looked upon as child abuse. Rather, it was considered an acceptable form of discipline.” This method of discipline is on the decline. While many critics of corporal punishment contend that the practice violates “children’s rights” it is still used in this country. In fact, one study suggested that at least 90 percent of American parents have used corporal punishment at some time in rearing their children.
The fact that a child is spanked, on its own, does not evidence family violence. A parent generally has discretion to use some amount of corporal punishment. See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. 151.001(e)(1) (West 2008) (parent may use corporal punishment for reasonable discipline of child), 151.003 (West 2008) (“A state agency may not adopt rules or policies or take any other action that violates the fundamental right and duty of a parent to direct the upbringing of the parent’s child.”). Therefore, for corporal punishment to constitute family violence there must be some evidence–such as severity of injury, type of instrument used, or mental or emotional state of the perpetrator–that would transcend a reasonable level of parental discretion regarding discipline. Clearly, there is a gray area in Texas law and much room for debate regarding what discipline is appropriate according to Texas law.
If you find yourself in a situation either criminally or in a civil case with Child Protective Services regarding the discipline of your child, give The Wright Firm, L.L.P. a call at 972-353-4600 or reach us via the web at www.thewrightlawyers.com