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When does strict parenting become domestic violence?

Sep 14, 2022 | Firm News

As a parent, you have the right to raise your children under any philosophy you see fit. While gentle parenting is the current trend, you may feel the need to implement different kinds of reprimands to modify your child’s destructive behaviors.

The state of California does not dictate how parents can discipline their children. However, you can face domestic violence charges if you go too far.

Signs of abuse

Corporal punishment, or spanking, is legal and should not result in serious physical harm or traumatic conditions. Common signs of domestic abuse or child abuse include:

  • Excessive anxiety, fear or withdrawal
  • Bruising, lacerations, scarring or disfigurement
  • Sprains, dislocations, fractures or broken bones
  • Internal bleeding
  • Scalding or burning
  • Permanent disability

Intent matters

According to the California penal code, anyone who “willfully inflicts upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony.” Additionally, the state considers abuse between persons living in the same household to be domestic violence.

Therefore, it is easy to see how physical contact that causes even minor injuries, such as a red mark on the skin, can be mistaken for domestic violence by childcare providers, teachers and social workers who interact with the child. You must be able to prove that you acted for the purpose of discipline and not because of an intent to cause harm.

If you face accusations of domestic violence or child abuse after spanking or disciplining your child, you need to know your rights as a parent in California.