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A single spank isn't domestic violence, court declares

Models depict a reenactment of spanking a child.

Rob Schoenbaum/Rob Schoenbaum/ZUMA Press

These days, spanking is widely considered a parenting no-no. But is it okay to overlook a single spank?

A Florida appeals court decided today that one spank doesn't count as domestic violence, according to an Associated Press report published in the Orlando Sentinel.

A panel of three judges quashed an injunction issued against a man, identified only by the initials "G.C.," who was accused by his ex-wife of spanking their 14-year-old daughter once on the buttocks with his hand. The panel rejected the injunction against him for protection against domestic violence, citing a previous ruling that reasonable or non-excessive corporal punishment is a defence against charges of child abuse.

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The father said he hit the girl because she had been disrespectful and defiant, AP reports. However, the girl said she was simply being sarcastic.

The case revisits the question of just how much spanking is too much. Or is any amount unacceptable?

Just this week, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for a man who was convicted of assault for spanking his six-year-old son in 2009. A new trial was granted because the trial judge was deemed to have applied a subjective standard over the duration of the spanking and failed to properly explain her ruling.

The father, whose name was not disclosed in the case, reportedly told the court he spanked the boy on the buttocks two or three times because the boy was misbehaving. Witnesses said they saw the man hit the child at least 10 times.

Under the Criminal Code, force is justified when correcting a child if it "does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances."

What do you consider reasonable when it comes to spanking?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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