Is Spanking Your Child Considered Child Abuse?

Many parents from the previous generations grew up disciplined with spanking. While some parents these days choose not to spank their children as a form of discipline, others swear by the effectiveness of spanking.

While Texas does not view spanking your child for discipline as a form of child abuse, the discipline must also be moderate and reasonable. Keep reading to learn what that means, and when spanking can turn into a child abuse charge.

What Is A Moderate And Reasonable Discipline?

According to Psychology Today, the legal spanking of a child involves smacking the buttocks with an open hand. If you apply excessive force, it is not considered reasonable or moderate discipline. If you leave a bruise, scratch or cut with your open hand, it is child abuse by definition. Additionally, if you use anything other than your hand to spank a child, such as a belt or a twig, this quickly crosses the line and turns into child abuse as well.

Who Can Spank My Child?

Generally speaking, the only people who can spank your child in Texas are the parents, grandparents, stepparents and other legal guardians. Technically, corporal punishment in schools is still allowed in Texas, but parents may choose to opt-out of this practice.

The Texas penal code section 9.61 describes discipline being reasonable under the following situations.

  • Using force, but not deadly force, on someone under the age of 18 as long as a parent, stepparent or someone acting in the absence of a parent performs it
  • When the person spanking the child feels that it is necessary to discipline the child or safeguard him or her
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