I love Mass spanking and, by that, I mean I truly love the latest ruling on spanking as a form of corporal punishment by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court somewhat less than I mean that I have any fondness for the actual act as a punishment. I have neither any fondness nor antipathy for spanking children.
I also love how the lower courts got spanked. 😉
In 2011 Jean Dorvil was arrested in Brockton, MA on charges of assault and Battery for spanking his child. During the trial the judge made the odd remark, “If you’re in public with your kids, it’s not appropriate to discipline in this fashion.” Dorvil then lost his appeal based on the appellate court’s view that the child lacked the capacity to understand the discipline and that the father spanked her “when he was upset and angry.”
OK, so we have one judge that thinks that spanking is wrong and constitutes assault and battery if it’s done in public and another set of judges who thinks that spanking is wrong and constitutes assault and battery if the parent is angry when they spank the child. Combined, these two judicial statements imply that spanking is legally A-OK if it’s performed in private and if the parent is neither upset nor angry. Hence, by their statements, it’s perfectly fine in the privacy of your own home to spank you child if you just enjoy doing so.
No! That’s not what the courts meant…but it is what, in the language of the law, they said. They created an arguable defense with their idiocy.
Thankfully, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned Dorvil’s conviction and coded that parents have the right to use corporal punishment to discipline and safeguard their children. Even better, they specifically codified that that a parent or guardian may not be subjected to criminal liability for the use of force against a minor child under the care and supervision of the parent or guardian, provided that:
- the force used against the minor child is reasonable;
- the force is reasonably related to the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor, including the prevention or punishment of the minor’s misconduct; and
- the force used neither causes, nor creates a substantial risk of causing, physical harm (beyond fleeting pain or minor, transient marks), gross degradation, or severe mental distress.
Yeah, I love Mass spanking and, even more, I that the court now has this particular ruling on the books because legal precedence counts for more than legislative text.