Banning Child Corporal Punishment
Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Tulane Law Review, Vol. 77, No. 575, 2003
Recent research on the impact of spanking children indicates that spanking is a dangerous disciplinary practice. Scientific studies released in the past ten years in particular have demonstrated more clearly than ever before that physical assault on children as a child-rearing method may cause a variety of personal and societal ills, including an increase in the child's aggression level, decreased cognitive functioning, and increased psychological and physical ailments. Other countries have responded to this research by banning child corporal punishment altogether, including parental spanking in the privacy of one's home.
This Article argues that America should follow the global trend to ban child spanking. Current American law supports violence against children by providing tort and criminal privileges for child corporal punishment. However, the policy supporting these privileges - the idea that corporal punishment is beneficial to children and helps them to become healthy, productive citizens - has been severely undermined by the recent scientific research indicating just the opposite. Therefore, the privileges should be abolished as obsolete.
In addition, American child abuse jurisprudence employs a parent-motive-centered approach, which essentially divests the child of the protection potentially afforded by child abuse laws. Current child abuse jurisprudence should change and center on the harm to the child, not the parent's motive. In addition, child abuse jurisprudence should recognize the reality that severe emotional harm can result from subabusive corporal punishment in the absence of physical injury. These changes to American law collectively would result in heightened societal awareness of the dangers of child corporal punishment and ultimately lessen the amount of violence perpetrated against American children, leading to a less violent society.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 69Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 2, 2008
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