December 20, 2005
Case Law Development: When is Spanking a Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights?
The Texas Court of Appeals concluded that "infrequent spankings of a child that leave "marks" or visible bruises 24 hours after the spanking" did not provide clear and convincing evidence of a parent's endangerment of the child to justify termination of parental rights. The court's opinion explores the propriety of corporal punishment, noting that it is "an increasingly controversial subject." The court cites a variety of cases from other jurisdictions and statistical reports on the declining frequency of corporal punishment, citing Deana Pollard, Banning Child Corporal Punishment, 77 TUL. L. REV. 575, 582 (2003). The court also cited studies regarding the prevalence of corporal punishment and suggestions that this may be an effective discipline tool. The court concluded that it is "not a court's function to determine whether parents measure up to an ideal, but to determine whether the child's welfare has been compromised." The court held that the evidence in this case was "both legally and factually insufficient to support a termination of parental rights."
In the Interest of J.A.J., 2005 Tex. App. LEXIS 10331 (December 13, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.14thcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/HTMLopinion.asp?OpinionID=81549 (Last visited December 19, 2005 bgf)