Is Corporal Punishment Legal and When Does It Become Excessive?

Is Corporal Punishment Legal and When Does It Become Excessive? by Joshua Katz

{2:50 minutes to read} What is corporal punishment?

“Corporal punishment” by definition means physical punishment of a child, whether it’s a spanking, a slap on the wrist, a smack across the face, or a beating with a belt. Corporal punishment of children was much more prevalent and acceptable in previous years and still is, in certain cultures.

In the state of New York, a parent is permitted to utilize corporal punishment as long as it is reasonable and not excessive. However, a parent should never strike a child out of anger and absolutely never with the intent to injure.

It’s one thing to smack a toddler’s bottom, it’s another to go “A.P.” on them (i.e. Adrian Peterson.) Even if you’re not 6’1 and 220 lbs of solid muscle, a bit of self-constraint is necessary if you’re going to use physical discipline with a toddler. When corporal punishment reaches a level that the child has welts, bruises or broken bones, it is excessive and illegal.

So, smacking a toddler’s bottom to deter behaviors that are harmful to himself or others is one thing, but it is something else entirely when the parent loses control. 

The bottom line is: think before you discipline.

Count to 10. Walk away. Give yourself time to calm down. And never strike a child with a dangerous instrument. There are parenting classes and counselors available to teach alternate parenting methods. Do not be ashamed to ask for help if you need it.

If you have found yourself in a situation where you have lost control, or if you have been reported to Child Protective Services, you should contact our office immediately.

  • What will you do if you are accused of disciplining your child in a way that could be considered excessive?
  • Are you willing to attend parenting classes and seek help if help is needed?
  • What will you do if someone falsely accuses you and files a report with Child Protective Services?

Contact me today if you have questions or concerns.

Plaine & Katz, LLP
80-02 Kew Gardens Rd.
Suite # 1050
Kew Gardens, NY 11415



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