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A Parent’s Right to Discipline: Child Spanking Laws in California



Some parents utilize the contentious discipline technique of spanking to address their children’s behavior. Is spanking permitted in California, though? And what happens if you spank a youngster too hard or with an object? The laws pertaining to child abuse and spanking in California, as well as the rights and obligations of parents who choose to spank their kids, will all be covered in this article.

Child Abuse and Spanking Laws in California

When someone knowingly subjects a kid under the age of eighteen to cruel or inhumane corporal punishment or an injury that causes a traumatic condition, that person is guilty of child abuse in California under Penal Code 273d PC. Any wound or physical harm resulting from the direct application of force is considered a traumatic condition. The severity of the injuries and the offender’s prior criminal history will determine whether the sentence for child abuse is a misdemeanor or a felony.

In California, nevertheless, not all physical punishment is regarded as child abuse. If a parent, guardian, or other adult who is legally allowed to punish a child uses appropriate physical force or another appropriate approach, they are not guilty of child abuse. Justifiable means that the spanking technique was appropriate and that a reasonable person would conclude that the punishment was appropriate given the situation.

Spanking with an Object

Whether or not to use a belt, paddle, or wooden spoon is one of the elements that decides whether or not spanking is appropriate. As long as the purpose of the spanking is to punish the child and it isn’t excessive given the child’s behavior, it is technically lawful to spank a child in California. But using an object puts the child at greater danger of visible harm or pain, which could be the difference between appropriate discipline and child abuse. As a result, parents who use an object to spank their kids should use caution and moderation and make sure the child’s body isn’t marred or bruised.

Consequences of Excessive Spanking

If a parent spanks their child excessively or for non-disciplinary reasons, there may be substantial legal and societal repercussions. Overspanking may result in criminal charges, the initiation of a juvenile dependency case, and accusations of child abuse. If found guilty of abusing their child, a parent may be sentenced to prison time, fines, probation, and required parenting training. In addition, overspanking a child can disrupt their psychological and emotional development and result in aggressive behavior, low self-esteem, anxiety, and despair. It can also negatively impact the parent-child bond.


In California, spanking is a permissible but contentious method of discipline. It is important for parents who decide to spank their kids to understand California’s laws regarding child abuse, spanking, and the associated rights and obligations. In addition, parents want to think about the possible negative impacts of spanking on their kids’ wellbeing and look for more positive and non-damaging alternatives to discipline. When it comes to raising happy and healthy children, parents should reserve the right to spank their children as a last resort.

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