What Is Reasonable Discipline?
The Right to Discipline
Under the watchful eyes of the State, many parents are unsure as to how they can discipline their child without it being considered abuse. The term corporal punishment (i.e. physical punishment) often invokes harsh judgments. But in many states, parents may use reasonable discipline—a degree of corporal punishment—which is legal in the eyes of the law.
New Jersey allows parents to use reasonable discipline when it comes to corporal acts of punishment. Unreasonable or excessive corporal punishment, however, is illegal and could constitute child abuse. But what is considered reasonable isn’t a scientific measure by any means. Typically determined on a case by case basis, common factors that are considered in child abuse cases involving corporal punishment include:
- Whether the child was injured and how severely
- Whether the parent or caregiver used excessive force, was reckless, or intentionally inflicted injury
- Whether the punishment was appropriate for the child’s age, size, and maturity
In cases where the child suffered injuries as a result of the corporal punishment, it is likely child welfare services will be involved. Whether or not the injuries inflicted were accidental is a key factor, though. Unfortunately, kids are kids and can suffer bumps, bruises, and scrapes when playing, one reason why child abuse cases involving allegations of excessive corporal punishment are complex yet not uncommon.
After hearing stories where parents had their child taken away for nothing more than a spanking, some parents worry that routine discipline will get them in trouble, although it’s been a common practice in U.S. households up until the last few decades when it became controversial. In reality, corporal punishment is lawful under both state and federal law, but it must be reasonable and not excessive.
If you are facing allegations of child abuse due to an incident of corporal punishment, you should speak with an attorney. Again, because these cases are determined on a case by case basis, there are many factors the agency will consider. You should consider working with a New Jersey attorney with experience handling child abuse defense cases. An experienced attorney can explain the parameters of the law, evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, and advise you on a plan of action.
Are you under investigation for child abuse or neglect? The knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC can defend you and ensure your rights are protected. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at [email protected], or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.