When a spanking is OK

June 13, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

When I acted up as a child, I would be threatened with a spanking. Lucky for me, my parents only delivered on the threat a couple times in my life. A stern look or grounding seemed to do the trick to curb my bad behavior. But for one Indiana mother, Sophia Willis, grounding and taking away privileges didn’t work to control her 11-year-old son’s behavior.





  After discovering he stole some of her clothing and then lied about it, she hit him several times with a belt or an electric cord. Willis was convicted of battery as a Class D felony. Willis appealed her conviction, arguing a parental discipline privilege and that she had tried other disciplinary measures, but nothing else had worked. The case made it all the way to the state Supreme Court, which reversed her conviction, finding the punishment didn’t constitute battery.  When does a parent’s discipline privilege end and abuse begin? According to the Supreme Court, as long as the parent satisfies all of the elements the parental discipline privilege defense beyond a reasonable doubt, using corporal punishment in the form of spanking on a child is legally allowed.  

However, Justice Frank Sullivan brought up an interesting point in the opinion: The courts see many cases of child abuse in which parents claim they were only disciplining their children. Requiring the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force was unreasonable or the parents’ belief was unreasonable will only require the state to spend more effort protecting children from abuse, he wrote.





   In years past, parents would think nothing of spanking their children as a form of discipline. In today’s world, spanking a child has become a gray area for parents and the courts as to when that discipline crosses the line into abuse. This opinion is supposed to address it, but as Justice Sullivan points out, it may just raise more questions as to whether a parent crossed the line in disciplining a child.
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

ADVERTISEMENT