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June 26, 2012

Senate Bill Outlaws Spanking


Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Delaware. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

A bill that would make it a crime for a parent to spank a child is moving quickly through the Delaware General Assembly.

Senate Bill 234, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Patricia M. Blevins (District 7), creates a definition of the term “physical injury” in the child abuse and neglect laws to include “pain.” Currently the law permits a parent to use force to punish a child for misconduct, but it prohibits any act that is likely to cause or does cause physical injury. By redefining “physical injury” to include the infliction of pain on a child, spanking would become a crime in Delaware punishable by imprisonment.

Under the proposed 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 three years of age or younger would be guilty of a class G felony and subject to two years in prison.

This bill passed the Senate unanimously on June 19, 2012, by a vote of 21–0.

If this bill passes, Delaware would become the first state in the nation to outlaw corporal discipline of children by their parents.

Home School Legal Defense Association opposes this bill as a violation of the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, including the long-recognized right to administer reasonable corporal discipline. HSLDA is working with the Delaware Home Education Association and the Delaware Family Policy Council in an effort to bring about a defeat of this legislation.

 Other Resources

View the text of this bill.