Is Spanking Considered Child Abuse?

January 24, 2020

Spanking is a gray area when it comes to child abuse. For some, a quick spank serves as a disciplinary measure to get a child’s attention. For others, spanking is meant to punish and hurt the child. While New Jersey permits parents to spank their children, as well as use other types of corporal punishment, it cannot cross the line into abuse.

Spanking becomes child abuse if the child develops bruises, marks, or suffers a severe injury, which in such cases is more accurately termed as beating. Hitting a child with an object, fist, or another body part is also considered abuse. How a child welfare agency defines abuse when it comes to excess spanking depends on its regulations.

Other actions that are considered abusive include using excessive physical restraint as punishment or leaving the child alone for extended periods. The latter does not refer to a normal timeout, but to those children who might find themselves sequestered by parents for an unusually long time.

Changing Attitudes

Attitudes regarding spanking have changed in recent generations. Many people do not condone a parent or other adult, such as a day care provider or teacher, for administering a sharp slap on the behind, no matter the child’s behavior. Cultural background also plays a role, as some communities are more accepting of corporal punishment than others. Opponents believe the use of any corporal punishment can cause children to act out and become more aggressive, or seriously damage their self-esteem.

Spanking Reported as Child Abuse

There are parents, and others, who will find themselves reported anonymously to child welfare agencies as child abusers because they were allegedly seen spanking a child. In such situations, the agency begins an investigation immediately, interviewing those accused and any witnesses, including the individual reporting the action. Daycare workers and teachers are also likely to be interviewed.

Seek Legal Representation

Any parents under investigation by a child welfare agency should seek immediate legal representation. While this is ideally done as soon as the investigation is announced, it is imperative if the agency concludes that child abuse occurred. Once a finding is made, there is only a short period of time in which parents may seek agency and judicial review of the decision. Failure to dispute the finding can result in the inability for the parent or other party to work in any educational, daycare or health care setting.

New Jersey DCPP Attorneys at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Advocate for Those Accused of Child Abuse

If you are under investigation for child abuse or neglect, you need the services of an experienced New Jersey DCPP attorney at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. Learn about your rights as a parent or guardian and receive the help your family needs. Contact us online or call us at 856-795-9400 for an initial consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.

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