When a child does something wrong, many parents believe in disciplining the child through spanking or some other form of corporal punishment. But some parents hesitate to spank their child because they are unsure if it is legal.
Various studies released over the past decade and beyond seem to indicate that is not “good parenting” to physically discipline a child as punishment. However, there are still many parents who strongly believe that when a child does something wrong, the best form of punishment to impose is a spanking.
Is this illegal? What type of physical discipline is lawful? Can social workers take away your child if you use a wooden spoon to spank him or her after they disobeyed family rules?
You Can Be Charged with Child Endangerment for Spanking Your Child
Thousands of children have been taken from their parents because the parents decided to use an object such as a wooden spoon to impose punishment. Some parents have even been arrested and criminally convicted for using similar punishment on their children.
California Penal Code 273(a) provides that a person is guilty of child endangerment if they:
- Caused or permitted a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering;and
- Was criminally negligent when he or she caused or permitted the child to suffer or be injured, or be endangered.
If you are being charged with child endangerment, an experienced attorney can argue a valid defense for you. The best defense against charges of child endangerment if you are using corporal punishment is that your conduct was not criminal, but instead was exercising reasonable discipline upon your child. “Reasonableness” is determined by these two factors:
- Was the punishment warranted? and
- Was the punishment excessive under the circumstances?
The court will review the surrounding circumstances to conclude whether the incident constitutes reasonable discipline.