In most places, there aren’t necessarily laws regarding child discipline, at least as it relates to parents. Most states, for example, don’t indicate exactly how parents may or may not interact with their children in terms of child discipline. Still, there are other important laws about how children are treated, and about how other people ought to be treated in general, that could possible come into conflict at one point or another with someone’s ideas regarding child discipline. When this happens, the other laws are generally thought to supersede the parent’s right to discipline.
For example, it is not illegal in most states for a parent to spank a child. It is, however, illegal for a parent to hit a child so hard that they break a bone, or they bleed. Spanking advocates are quick to remind us that spanking, when done properly, will never result in more than a temporary sting on the bottom, rather than more severe consequences. So, if in the act of child discipline a person violates another law, they can still be punished for it.
Having said all of that, there are some instances where legislators have attempted to create laws regarding child discipline. For example, lawmakers in California recently attempted, and failed, to ban spanking. Anti-spanking advocates, in many cases, believe that spanking is tantamount to child abuse, and that any discipline that involves physical contact should be outlawed. Many more people that don’t practice or believe in spanking, however, do not believe that the laws should dictate to other parents how to discipline their children.
There are more often laws that do govern how a school must act regarding child discipline. For example, paddling a child is illegal in most states. In addition, most schools tend to, as a matter of practice, ban certain types of child discipline. Many school districts have a policy that says that teachers and staff are not to use any form of corporal punishment whatsoever. Here again, these laws regarding child discipline tend to apply to the school setting, rather than the home setting.