The Parental Discipline Defense in New Zealand: The Potential Impact of Reform in Civil Proceedings
27 N.C. Cent. L.J. 178 (2005)
33 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2005
In British common law nations, including the United States and New Zealand, the affirmative defense of reasonable parental discipline justifies assault on a child. The parental discipline defense contemplates innumerable methods of physical discipline, including hitting, restraining, and placing a child in “time-out” or isolation. Without the defense, parents may be subject to criminal charges or civil liability for assault and battery, or the acts could be grounds for removal of the child in protective order, care and protection, or custody proceedings. Although legal research analyses of the defense have tended to focus on its use in criminal court, its application in civil proceedings is equally important to the welfare of children and the accountability of adults who abuse them. New Zealand and the United States provide instructive examples of how the courts in child welfare, domestic violence, and family law cases have struggled to find a consistent approach to physical child abuse when forced to interpret the reasonableness of the use of force on children.
Keywords: reasonable discipline, corporal punishment, child welfare, custody, domestic violence, child abuse, international comparative, British common law, defense to assault
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