A state appeals court tossed out the ruling against a Northern California mother who was previously charged with child abuse after she spanked her 12-year-old daughter so hard with a spoon that it caused bruising.
The Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose reversed the child abuse determination made by the Santa Clara County Department of Social Services, according to Fox News.
Social workers reported Veronica Gonzalez to the state Department of Justice’s child abuse database with a “substantiated” abuse determination in the April 2010 spanking incident, which was upheld by a judge.
Oh Tuesday, however, the appeals court said the spanking came close to abuse but that the family’s entire circumstances and the context of the incident was not taken into consideration by the social workers or lower court judge.
Gonzalez and her husband testified that other forms of punishment such as groundings and taking away her phone had failed to persuade their 12-year-old daughter to do her schoolwork and avoid gang culture.
The appeals court said the key factors in the ruling were the mother’s frustration with her daughter’s behavior and her intention not to inflict harm.
“Nothing in the record suggest the mother should have known she was inflicting bruises,” Justice Conrad wrote for the three-judge panel.
The court ordered the child abuse report to be withdrawn or Gonzalez be given another hearing in which the family’s circumstances are considered and the spanking put into context with the parents’ growing frustration with a disobedient daughter.
The debate of spanking as a form of discipline has always been a hot topic. The American Humane Association opposes physical discipline on children as a whole but found in two national surveys that 90 percent of parents of three and four-year-olds had struck their children and that 22 percent of parents of children under one year of age had also hit their children.
A second study found that 44 percent of mothers reported spanking their children approximately twice a week.
Sources: Fox News, American Humane Association