A License to Assault Children
Corporal Punishment Exclusion Clauses
Give U.S. Parents
The Right to Perpetrate Acts Upon Their Children Which
Would Constitute Crimes If Done To Another Adult.
The precise legal language of such
from state to state, as does the location of the
exclusion language in the state law books.
This web page presents exclusion clauses
representative U.S. states - a southern state,
a west coast state, and a northeastern state.
|Georgia not only has exclusions
for parental assault, but also for parental battery and for "family violence"
against children by parents provided that it is done in the name of discipline
and doesn't go too far...
Georgia Statutes 16-5-20(d) for simple assault state "In no event shall this subsection be applicable to corporal punishment administered by a parent or guardian to a child or administered by a person acting in loco parentis."
16-5-23.1(f)(2) regarding battery states "In no event shall this subsection be applicable to reasonable corporal punishment administered by parent to child."
19-13-1(2) regarding "family
violence" states "The term 'family violence'
shall not be deemed to include reasonable discipline administered by a
parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint or detention."
Oregon law not only contains corporal punishment exclusion language for fourth degree assault, but for the more serious offense of third degree assault.
SECTION 1. Oregon Revised Statutes 163.160(4) regarding fourth degree assault state: "It is an affirmative defense to violating subsection (1)(a) of this section that the physical injury is the result of corporal punishment administered by a minor victim's parent, guardian or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of the minor."
Subsection (1)(a) reads, "A
person commits the crime of assault in the fourth degree if the person
intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes physical injury to another."
This language is important because it makes clear that acts which would
be defined as "physical injury" if done to another adult are exempt
from prosecution if the perpetrator is a parent and the victim
is a child.
Virtually identical language in SECTION 2. Oregon Revised Statutes 163.165(3) excludes parental corporal punishment from a provision of the the more serious third degree assault law which makes any assault by a person 18 or older against a person 10 or younger automatically at least a third degree assault rather than a fourth degree assault: "It is an affirmative defense to violating subsection (1)(h) of this section that physical injury is the result of corporal punishment administered by a minor victim's parent, guardian or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of the minor." Subsection (1)(h) reads, "[Accused person] Being at least 18 years of age, intentionally or knowingly causes physical injury to a child 10 years of age or younger."
This means that anyone over 18 who commits fourth degree assault on
a child is guilty of the more serious charge of third degree assault if
the child is 10 years old or younger - unless the perpetrator is
the child's parent or guardian inflicting corporal punishment.
Pennsylvania law's exemption for parental domestic violence against children is in the state's "justifiable force" statute from Crime Code 509 PA. As in other states, children are exempt from protection against what would constitute assault if perpetrated on an adult.
Below, for comparison's sake, is the language for both minor children and retarded/incompetent adults. This comparison is relevant, since some apologists attempt to justify the lower level of protection extended to children by invoking the dependent status of children and their incompetence to survive in the world unaided. In Pennsylvania at least, the legal language regarding adults who are dependent and unable to survive in the world unaided due to a psychiatric or mental handicap makes it clear that the special low standard of protection extended to children is because they are children, rather than because they are dependent/incompetent.
The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable if:
(1) The actor is the parent or guardian or other person similarly responsible for the general care and supervision of a minor or a person acting at the request of such parent, guardian or other responsible person and:
.......... (i) the force is used for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor, including the preventing or punishment of his misconduct and
..........(ii) the force used is not designed to cause or known to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain or mental distress or gross degradation.
(2) The actor is a teacher or person otherwise entrusted with the care or supervision for a special purpose of a minor and:
...........(i) the actor believes that the force used is necessary to further such special purpose, including the maintenance of reasonable discipline in a school, class or other group, and that the use of such force is consistent with the welfare of the minor: and
the degree of force, if it had been used by the parent or guardian of the
minor, would not be unjustifiable under paragraph (l)(ii).
Here the code stops talking about minor children and begins talking about dependent adults. Note the differences from the above:
The section below forbids use of force on mentally incompetent adults only if there is "no reasonable alternative." No such stipulation exists in the above language relating to use of force on children. Children and only children may have force used on them even when clear nonviolent alternatives exist.
Also, the language below forbids inflicting "unnecessary pain" on
mentally incompetent adults, while children may legally be subjected to
anything short of "extreme pain." Mentally incompetent adults
may not be subjected to force if this results in "humiliation." But
children may be humiliated with impunity, provided only that this humiliating
treatment falls short of "gross degradation."
(3) The actor is the guardian or other person similarly responsible for the general care and supervision of an incompetent, mentally ill or mentally retarded person and
The force is used for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare
of the incompetent, mentally ill
the force used is not designed to cause or known to create a substantial
risk of causing death, bodily injury,
In other words, Pennsylvania law extends a tenderer, more protective
standard to adults than to children. Where is the sense in this?
Children are the
most vulnerable members of society.