Florida – Appellate Court Rules on Parental Spanking – What Is Abuse? What Isn’t Abuse? Questions Still Linger.


There is often times a fine line between parental discipline and child abuse. There was a recent Florida Appellate Court ruling that addressed the issue of the rights of parents to discipline and whether such acts constituted child abuse / neglect under Florida law.
The Florida Appellate Court ruling dealt with a very specific fact pattern. Namely, the question presented before the court was whether a single smack spanking fit under any of the definitions of child abuse or child neglect. In other words, did a single smack spanking amount of a crime under the laws of the State of Florida? The question or issue presented before the Court was whether the punishment was unreasonable and excessive. The Court ruled that such an act under the particular facts presented to the Court was not abuse or neglect under Florida law. It is still unclear under Florida law how each and every case of corporal punishment by a parent will be handled. As long as corporal punishment is allowed, there will always be some debate or uncertainty as to what acts constitute abuse and neglect and what acts do not. You can read more about this topic at Florida Appellate Court Rules that One Smack / Spank Does Not Constitute Child Abuse and Neglect.

The topic covered in the previously mentioned article dealt with parental use of corporal punishment. The laws are quite different when applied to schools and day care centers. Schools may be able to utilize corporal punishment in the State of Florida but it depends on whether the school is public or private and the location (county) of the school. Some public school districts allow corporal punishment and some prohibit it. Private schools have policies in place that either allow or prohibit corporal punishment as well.

For more information on corporal punishment prohibitions in Florida day care centers, see – What Rules Apply to Discipline and Corporal Punishment?

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