Delaware: Another First

Not only was Delaware the first state of the union, they appear to be the first state to possibly outlaw spanking. Senate Bill 234, which has been signed by the governor states in § 1103A

Child Abuse in the second degree; class G felony
A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree when:
(1) The person intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury to a child who is 3 years of age or younger;

In and of itself that doesn’t seem to say anything about spanking, but in the definition section, we read these words:

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

This certainly would include spanking.

What is interesting is that in § 1103 we read these words:
Child Abuse in the third degree; class A misdemeanor.
(a) A person is guilty of child abuse in the third degree when:
(1) The person recklessly or intentionally causes physical injury to a child through an act of abuse and/or neglect of such child

While both could include spanking, if one wanted to push the envelope a little, couldn’t this second section include all kinds of things if the state got out of control. A silly example: when I taught all three of my children to ride their bikes, I knew without a doubt that they would fall. I was putting them, intentionally in a situation where pain would ensue. And it did. At some point in time, all of my children fell once the training wheels were off. And I did this on purpose!

As I said, a silly example. Nevertheless, when a nanny state takes over, all kinds of ludicrous interpretations ensue. While the state claims that easier prosecution of legitimate abuse cases is what they are after, not parental corporal punishment, couldn’t the difference hinge on who is interpreting the statute? And because of this, the law needs to be amended to allow an exception for parental corporal punishment. But of course, then the state will need to start defining more terms and more terms.

And thus the age old problem continues: in trying to protect some, whose rights do we trample on to do so.


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