Society

Spanking Does Not Qualify As Abuse, New York Court Rules

| by Jared Keever

A New York court ruled last week that it is permissible for a parent to spank his or her child and doing so should not be considered abuse. 

A four-judge panel of the New York Appellate Division in Suffolk County Wednesday dismissed a child neglect proceeding against a man who spanked his eight-year-old son for swearing at an adult during a party in 2012.

Newsday reports that the man, whose name has been withheld, allegedly spanked the child with his open hand while at the party. 

“Further, it was alleged that after the father and the child returned home from the party, the father repeatedly struck the child with a belt on the buttocks, legs and arms,” the ruling said.

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The father reportedly admitted to spanking the child at the party but denied ever hitting the boy with a belt. 

A Suffolk County Family Court judge found last year that the man had abused his son “by inflicting excessive corporal punishment.”

The judges unanimously said there was insufficient evidence to uphold those charges.  

“The father’s open-handed spanking of the child as a form of discipline after he heard the child curse at an adult was a reasonable use of force and, under the circumstances presented here, did not constitute excessive corporal punishment,” the judges said in their opinion.

Spanking has been a controversial form of punishment for years but courts in three states have recently said that it does not constitute abuse.

A federal court in Florida ruled that a single spank is not abusive. Similarly, a California court last year said a woman who hit her daughter on the behind with a wooden spoon could not be labeled a child abuser. And the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a father who hit his son 36 times on the upper thighs with a wooden paddle hadn’t necessarily abused the 12-year-old boy.

But one mom, Jennifer Smith of Queens, recently told the New York Daily News that she refuses to spank her own children.

“I don’t believe in spanking,” she said. “I just think it’s a little barbaric at this point. There’s so many other ways of discipline.”

Researchers at Cornell University agree. The Boston Globe recently reported that a study from the school found that spanking is no more effective than other forms of discipline. 

Spanking does not bring about long-term compliance and administering “time-outs” to children yields the same amount of short-term compliance, the study found. Furthermore spanking can increase childhood aggression and is linked to creating feelings of fear and sadness in children, the researchers said. 

Sources: Newsday, New York Daily News, Cornell University Study, The Boston Globe

Photo Source: Wikimedia