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When does strict parenting cross the line to domestic violence?

Parents have the right to raise their children as they choose. Some parents are stricter than others and opt for different kinds of punishments to modify their children’s behavior.

While corporal punishment is legal in Florida, understanding what is allowable and what crosses the line can help you avoid domestic violence charges.

What is the Florida law regarding corporal punishment?

Florida law allows parents to determine the appropriate discipline for their family. According to Florida state statute 39.01, “Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.”

However, the law does not define what harm to the child means, leaving it open to interpretation.

What are signs of harm that can constitute abuse in Florida?

Florida defines abuse as physical, mental or emotional injury. Generally, appropriate corporal punishments such as using your hand to spank your child, should not result in the following:

  • Bruises or lacerations
  • Fractures, sprains or dislocations
  • Burning or scalding
  • Internal hemorrhaging
  • Scarring, disfigurement or permanent disability
  • Harmful emotional effects such as fear, anxiety, or withdrawal

How can the law misconstrue corporal punishment as domestic violence?

Florida defines domestic violence as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery…resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

It’s not hard to see how corporal punishment could be mistaken for domestic violence.

If you are facing domestic violence charges when you were only disciplining your child, which is legally allowed in Florida, you deserve a strong defense in court.



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