The Delaware Legislature Needs a Good Spanking

By now, most are aware that the State of Delaware has passed a piece of child welfare legislation that, in effect, criminalizes the act of spanking a child.  The language is subtle, but is general enough to be disastrous for a parents’ right to raise and discipline their children.  The key passage in question is actually a definition:

“Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition or pain.

The synopsis provided by the legislature near the bottom of the bill reads:

This bill establishes the offense of Child Abuse. These new statutes combine current statutes and redefine physical injury and serious physical injury to reflect the medical realities of pain and impairment suffered by children. A new section provides special protection to infants, toddlers and children who have disabilities. The statute also expands the state of mind necessary for certain offenses against children allowing for more effective prosecution of parents who subject their children to abuse by others and fail to protect their children. The bill also re-numbers the definitional section making clear that the definitions apply to all crimes in the subchapter.

What are the implications of beating one’s children?  Well, that depends on their age.  According to the Home School Legal Defense Association:

Under the new law, a parent causing “physical injury” (e.g., pain) to a child under age 18 would be guilty of a class A misdemeanor and subject to one year in prison. A parent causing pain to a child who was 3 years of age or younger would be guilty of a class G felony and subject to two years in prison.

Of course many a blogger will be up in arms, and rightfully so, over the passage of this bill.  I will let those who have more of a aptitude for jurisprudence to dismantle the constitutionality of the legislation.  Actually, I would love for someone skilled in this area to address the possibility of “pain” eventually being interpreted in a general enough manner to include psychological pain, something we often deal with in the fight against abortion and clauses to include “the health of the mother.”

For my own part, I have only two things to offer.

First, this language is so ridiculous as to be entirely unenforcible.  Any time I cause my children pain I am guilt of a class A misdemeanor?  Do you have any idea how many times I violate this statue during a sixty-minute Mass?  A pinch here, a squeeze there, and yes, even the occasional smack upside the head.  In the course of a single Mass, under Delaware State Law, I could probably be issued somewhere between three years and three centuries of prison time depending on the weekend and sitting arrangement of my six kids.  And it gets worse for my three-year-old, in which the misdemeanor is elevated to a felony.  Good Lord, I wouldn’t stand a chance!  The weekend when I found the little booger dropping my keys behind the radiator, squeezing an entire bottle of hand sanitizer on his sister’s school work, microwaving his plastic blocks, and standing on the sink so her could see in the mirror … let’s just say that I wouldn’t get out of prison until somewhere between hell freezing over and the day the Browns win a Super Bowl.

Second, I thought the dialog with my nine-year-old daughter was entertaining:

Daughter:  What are you guys taking about?

Dad:  The State of Delaware has passed a law saying that parents can’t spank their kids.

Daughter:  That’s silly.

Dad:  Why?

Daughter:  Parents need to spank so their kids will behave.

Dad:  What do you think will happen if parents can’t spank their kids?

Daughter:  The kids will probably end up voting for Obama.

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Jake Tawney


  1. Look up the Fabian Socialists, HG Wells etc. Didn’t Hillary lead the charge for kids suing their parents?? All for the State raising the kids. Hillary won’t allow the kids to sue the State though.

  2. Although I don’t believe that spanking is absolutely MANDATORY to establish good discipline (see: Nanny 911 and Supernanny) – I think that parents should have the right to determine the best way of raising their children…because not all kids will respond to the same style of punishment in the same way. Some kids do actually need a spanking – especially the ones who think they’re indestructible and constantly put themselves in danger…the fastest way to stop a kid from getting himself killed is to cause some pain so that they connect such actions with discomfort and learn to stop doing them. Getting your kids to behave in Mass is especially tricky, I remember being 6 and struggling to stay quiet during a church service…and sometimes you really do need to get their attention quickly and quietly (as the original poster suggests…a quick swat on the hand or pinch on the neck or pull on the ear so that they’ll be looking at you when you tell them to be quiet or face the consequences. 🙂

    It is rather troubling to me how badly we’re coddling our kids these days. it’s to the point where they literally think that having sex is a right that trumps everything else (how else do you explain them demanding that everyone pay for their condoms and pills and hand them out like candy in high school?) – and where they don’t understand why, when they leave college, have they not immediately become a financial success and been handed an awesome job.

  3. We live in Pennsylvania but travel to Delaware to see friends often.

    The next time our youngest deserves a spanking in the First State, we’ll have to remember to save it until we pass inder the Welcome To Pennsylvania sign on Rt. 202. I imagine the suspense of the half an hour it takes to get back into the Commonwealth will be far worse than the spanking that would have been administered on the spot.

    Our eldest is eleven and we have an eight and a five year old. Our older two have been spanked perhaps five times for each. Our youngest has earned three.

    Spanking is a tool in our arsenal. It has been used primarily for the 3 to 6 year old period, that time where children are capable of knowing right from wrong but have a hard time connecting punishments with the offense if the punishment doesn’t follow closely on the discovery of the offense.

  4. Ever notice that as more and more Americans have fewer and fewer children of their own somehow they get the urge to raise everybody else’s kids? But only by the remote-control means of imposing legislative mandates on their neighbors, no way would those meddlers bother adopting school-age kids or take in teenagers as foster parents.

    I expect the first few cases under this law tried in Delaware will be show trials of some dads. Also, I predict that this law will be shelved when it begins to inconvenience the most common perpetrator of acts of physical punishment of children – mothers. Prosecutors could perp-walk mommies past TV cameras by the dozen simply by staking out daycare centers.

  5. Just another brick in the wall to establish that everyone is either an employee of the State (with its SOP manual to be followed to the letter) or a ward of the State.

  6. The Ninth Circuit Court in California told parents that when the child crosses the threshhold of the public school, the parents have no longer have anything to say about their children’s education. Kidnapping by the state.

    Parents have custody of their children and when parents refuse to give “in loco parentis” to the school, everybody better pay attention.
    Parents may attend the classroom as auditors of their delegated power of attorney “in loco parentis” and cannot be prohibited from or prevented from ensuring the well being of their children.

    The state cannot be sued, or so they say, but the state can be held to keep their own laws. Cultural bullies do not own any child.

  7. A second thought: If parents have custody, natural and legal, of their children, the state can only dictate how the state must behave towards the minor children of parents who delegate “in loco parentis”, the parents have the final say.

  8. Jules Ferry, one of the founders of public education in Europe was more candid than most politicians, when he said its purpose was “to cast the nation’s youth in the same mould and to stamp them, like the coinage, with the image of the republic.”

    One might imagine that he was a left-wing ideologue, but not a bit of it; a leading figure in the Party of Order, he was the minister of Thiers, during “bloody week” (the suppression of the Paris Commune) and the theoretician of colonisation in Algeria. No politician, left or right, believes he can have too much power.

  9. No politician, left or right, believes he can have too much power.

    Michael, the people empowered by this are not legislators but social workers and various and sundry in the family court apparat.

  10. Art Deco

    But legislators love to direct the lives of the citizens.

    “The intervention of the legislator in all things seemed to Rollin [the French classical scholar] so indispensable that he quite seriously congratulates the Greeks on the fact that a man named Pelasges came to show them how to eat acorns. Before that, he says, they grazed on the land like cattle.”

    That’s the spirit

  11. But legislators love to direct the lives of the citizens.

    When you are tempted to make a statement like that, put in the name of an actual living and breathing human being and see if it makes sense. The people employed in the Obama waivers machine may like to direct the lives of others. My local municipal councillors manifest no such ambition. They spend more time than they would like to listening to people’s complaints and fussing over how to finance small sidewalk repairs.

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