Should a Parent lose Custody for Spanking their Child?

The following is a partial transcript of a conversation we had at Divorce Saloon about spanking and custody. The question posed is whether a parent who spanks their child should lose custody. The conversation started after Bryan K Pauly did a post on Paula Patton and Robin Thicke who are fighting over custody. Patton allegedly accused Thicke of “spanking” and so she wants sole custody of their son Julian.


Bryan: I just think it’s foul the way she is trying to make the guy out as a bad father for “spanking his kid.” Everybody spanks their kids.

Marion: I don’t know about that. A lot of people spank their kids for sure but not everybody.

Bryan: Spanking is not illegal though.

Jeannie: Yes it is. I think it is illegal in some states.

Bryan: yea? Name one.

Jeannie: I don’t know exactly but I am sure it not legal everywhere.

Marion: I think, actually, if I am not mistaken, and don’t quote me but I think it is legal to spank your child in every state in the Union at this time. It is a question of reasonableness and the amount of force because obviously, you don’t want to be accused of child abuse and that can easily happen.

Kate: Really? So how hard can you spank a child before you are being abusive?

Bryan: yea.

Marion: Look, I don’t know. I think it is a question of degree and the situation. If the kid calls the police or somebody calls the police and the child is covered in red welts and cuts and bruises from the spanking, I think a reasonable inference can be made that maybe the child had been overly spanked, maybe too much force was used.

Jennifer: But what if the child is darker? Like…no, I am not trying to be funny or racist but if the test is whether the child has red welts, not every child will have red welts depending on the complexion. So if the same force is used on one child as the other and one has red welts and the other does not, so there is only abuse in the red welts situation?

Marion: That is a fair question. I don’t know the answer. I think it depends on how the judge, the trier of fact will interpret individual situations.

Jeannie: I am against spanking on all situations. I think if you would not spank a dog and beat it into submission, you should not spank a human being. It’s wrong and it is abusive and anyone who spanks their child should lose parental rights.

Bryan: So you are team Paula Patton?

Jeannie: on this point, yes. I’m sorry.

Kate: Well, let’s face it. Spanking is a little bit barbaric. In some countries in Europe it is totally illegal to hit a child.

Chrissie: I don’t think its only in Europe. In other parts of the world too.

Marion: France just outlawed it actually. In December, I think. A new law says you cannot spank.

Jeannie: Really?! You never told us that. I agree totally with that law Marion!

Bryan: I disagree totally. Let’s just keep some perspective on real life, ok. Kids are bad and sometimes you have to give the little shits a whupping.

Marion: Oh my god. Bryan that was totally off the wall even for you.

Kate: I think he needs to be fired!

Chrissie: I agree!

Bryan: There you all go again over-reacting. You can’t take a little joke. I am just saying that kids sometimes, it’s like, you know, they need a little you know, spank. And then they behave.

Marc: Well I just looked it up while you guys were chatting and France is the 52nd country to outlaw spanking. It’s pretty serious. Listen to this:

“France joins countries like Iceland, Israel, Sweden, Greece, Brazil and Argentina, all of which have prohibited the disciplinary practice. The law, known in France as the Equality and Citizenship Bill, was passed on December 22, Marta Santos Pais, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Violence against Children, said in a statement. “The adoption of this new legislation marks a very important commitment towards the protection from violence of more than 14 million children living in France,” she said.”

Marion: Well, I think that is only symbolic though. It’s not like there will be consequences like jail time or losing custody of your kids if you spank in France.

Marc: Exactly. It says here

Offenders of the new law, however, will not face criminal charges, meaning that the Equality and Citizenship Bill is a symbolic piece of legislation. For child protection groups, though, this doesn’t mean the law is invalid. Instead, they claim, it is a critical step away from an antiquated disciplinary practice that has, according to study after study, proved to do more harm than good.

Marion: hme…I am not sure if I would make that blanket statement though that it does more harm than good. I am against abuse of children –

Jeannie: How can you justify hitting your child then if you are against abuse of children? Would you hit your dog or cat?

Kate: Yea, Marion. How is spanking a child different from spanking your pet? And besides studies shows that hitting just makes children crazy anti social adults with aggression issues. It doesn’t solve anything and a lot of times it is just the parents exercising their frustration and venting on their kids.

Marion: Hme…yea, I guess, I mean, it’s a good point and it is a good question and it is a fair question. I agree on a certain level but I think done correctly –

Jeannie: What do you mean done correctly? There is no way to abuse kids correctly. You. Should. Not. Hit. Kids. Period!

Bryan: I disagree on every level. I mean, what is a parent to do? Not discipline the child at all? Lock his ass in the closet for six hours?

Marion: Bryan, Jeannie is going to do a transcript of this you have to use better language. Please. Now, you know, there are diferent ways to discipline a child and each way can be deemed abusive depending on who is doing the analysis but what are parents to do then? Let their children do whatever they want? Not have any disciplinary measures in place? I can tell you I was a teacher and there were many children who, frankly, I think may not have been disciplined at home and it is very difficult–

Bryan: Exactly. They become serial killers and sociopaths in society.

Jeannie: The research does not support that Bryan.

Kate: Not at all. It is the reverse that is true.

Bryan: Well the research is wrong. They don’t know what they are talking about. And you know who else should get spanked in my view?

Marion: Lord have mercy….um…

Bryan: Bad behaving ex wives like Paula Patton who try to take a guy’s kids aways. She needs a spanking.

Kate: Bryan, you are a sexist monster.

Bryan: But I am right though.

Marion: Oh my god.

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