The Legal Framework Governing Corporal Punishment
73 Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 91 (2020)
Posted: 12 May 2020
Date Written: May 11, 2020
Every state recognizes a limited parental privilege to use corporal punishment. This privilege applies in both criminal cases and civil child-protection proceedings. This short article describes this parental privilege and the child-wellbeing rationale underlying it. The article clarifies that the privilege does not amount to an endorsement of corporal punishment, nor does the privilege rest on evidence that corporal punishment inflicts no harm or is ever necessary. Instead, the privilege recognizes that an attempt to protect children from all instances of corporal punishment exposes children to the significant risks associated with government intervention through the criminal justice and child welfare systems: incarceration of a parent and potential foster care placement of a child. Additionally, the article briefly addresses corporal punishment in schools, which most states prohibit. The article notes that, unlike the parental privilege, there is no child-wellbeing rationale for the use of corporal punishment in schools, and the trend to ban corporal punishment in schools clearly promotes child wellbeing.
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