Update: This was the first post in what I thought might become an ongoing feature called “Google Law.” The idea was simple: using Google Instant, I’d find out what legal questions most people are asking. Then, I’d try to answer them. But simple ideas aren’t always good one, so I abandoned this concept.
Courts in Virginia have long recognized that parents have a right to punish their children, even using corporal punishment. Still, parents can be held criminally liable for assault and battery (or other crimes, such as malicious wounding or even abduction) if the punishment they inflict exceeds “due moderation.” Harbaugh v. Commonwealth, 209 Va. 695, 698 (1969). What amounts to “due moderation” depends on a number of factors, including the child’s age, “size and conduct,” particular misconduct, and the severity of the punishment (as indicated by marks or wounds). So, for instance, if a parent causes a very small child to bleed, or reacts to the smallest of offenses with brutality, he or she could face punishment. See, e.g., Campbell v. Commonwealth, 405 S.E.2d 1 (Va.Ct.App. 1991) (affirming malicious wounding conviction where stepfather “spanked” stepson with belt fifteen times, leaving substantial bruising). It’s sort of common sense.
So, like many legal questions, this question can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. (I think it’s safe to say that this Yahoo! Answers scenario, for instance, would not be unlawful.) There is not any apparent law in Virginia (or elsewhere in this country) specifically “outlawing” spanking, but you can’t go too far as a parent. It all depends. (Of course, this wishy washy answer is a somewhat unsatisfying result for my first “Google Law” question, but that’s the way it goes).
There is a De Facto SPANKING BAN, and there will continue to be until the New Agers finally figure out they are FATALLY WRONG and that they have DESTROYED AMERICA with their New Age parenting THEORIES- and the laws plainly clarified to ENCOURAGE spanking as necessary.
Yeah. Well, that’s certainly a different view than mine, but I’m not an expert. So who you end up believing is really all up to you.
*As we explain in the disclaimer, I’m not offering specific legal advice. This is more just my musings on a given legal subject. If you have a real legal issue, please go see an attorney.