California Court Rules That Beating Child With Wooden Spoon Is Not Form Of Child Abuse

220px-Conrad,_Giorgio_(1827-1889)_-_n._202aThere is an interesting ruling out of the Sixth District Court of Appeal in California where a unanimous state appellate panel ruled that beating a child with a wooden spoon is not child abuse, even if it leaves bruises. The mother, Veronica Gonzalez, was reported for possible child abuse of her 12-year-old daughter. The daughter says that a friend “tricked” her into going to school officials about the beating. The case is Gonzalez v. Santa Clara County Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 802.

Here is the facts found by the court:

Prior to the events giving rise to this matter, Mother and her husband (Father) had become gravely concerned about Daughter’s declining academic performance and alarming social tendencies. As Father put it, Daughter “had decided that she did not have to do her school or home work, repeatedly lied to both of us, [and] started showing interest in gang culture.”1 Mother declared that Daughter had become “boy crazy and started to mingle with a new type of crowd,” and that they had found pictures and text messages on her mobile phone “in reference to gangs.” They “had many discussions” with Daughter about these developments, but to no avail: “She would hear us yet continued to go down this road . . . . [S]he began saying that her favorite color is red . . . . [S]he was not doing many of her school and homework assignments and even her teachers expressed . . . annoyance with her disregard for her work. We also discovered that [Daughter] had been lying to us about completing assignments and had been hiding test[s] with low scores that were supposed to have gotten signed by us.” Daughter’s older sister (Sister) also declared that Daughter’s “interest in gangs seemed to be growing.” She “started to become very irresponsible in school by being late to classes, having really bad grades because she was doing hardly any of her school and homework, was lying to my parents about lots of things, and started hanging around wanna-be gangster kids at school.” Daughter herself declared, “I have to admit, for a long time, starting in 6th grade, I was always getting to class late, not doing my school assignments, and lying to my parents.” She acknowledged that milder disciplinary measures had failed to influence her: “When I first started doing all this, my parents grounded me many times, by taking away all my fun stuff like my iPod, my T.V., my cell phone, and I was not allowed to hang out with friends. I don’t know why that stuff didn’t work on me, but I continued to not do what I was supposed to.”

Mother described in more detail the failure of these less stringent methods of discipline: “[A]fter a few weeks of grounding when [Daughter] would get off of restriction she would do better for a short time, but then revert back to the same behavior, over and over. We would go through several sessions of groundings over several months, hoping it would finally make the difference, but grounding proved to be ineffective at setting [Daughter] back on the right path. At this point, we did not know what else to do to help [Daughter]. We talked again, and felt that the only other option out there, would be to try spanking. So the weekend before the incident in question, my husband and I sat [Daughter] down and explained to her that, since she kept lying to us repeatedly about completing assignments, she now needed to get her agenda signed by each teacher so we could be sure she was really doing all of her work. We also informed her that if she continued with this irresponsible behavior, [such as] not doing her assignments, being late to class and lying to us, she would start to receive one spank on the bottom for each thing not done. She understood the new consequences. but still chose to continue the bad behavior.”

According to the Mother, on each of the first three days of the new regime Daughter came home without having “complet[ed] her tasks.” This resulting in her being spanked by Father “with his hand, only on the buttocks, fully clothed, and in a calm manner.” (Capitalization removed.) When Mother picked Daughter up at school on Thursday, April 29, 2010, she had again failed to comply with her parents’ directives. She [*6] gave implausible excuses, a further violation of parental orders. Mother called Father “and told him that [Daughter] still wasn’t doing her work and was late again, and that he needed to come home and deal with this. He told me he wouldn’t be home until late that evening and that I needed to handle it, or else [Daughter] would not respect me or take me seriously as a parent. Because of my hand condition, he said I should just use a wooden spoon. I told him that I’d rather he just spank her when he gets home from work, but he insisted that I should handle it. I finally agreed and told [Daughter] that I would have to be the one to spank her this day and that I was going to use a wooden spoon because my hands hurt.” Father also declared that the idea of using a spoon had been his, and had arisen from the exigency of his not coming home until “very late that evening.”

Mother declared that upon arriving home, she retrieved a wooden spoon and “gave [Daughter] around five or six spanks on the bottom, one for each thing not done and for making excuses. [Daughter] was fully clothed during the spanking. She was not crying or screaming during the spanking.” (Capitalization removed.) Family members [*7] declared unanimously that spankings had been a rarity in the family, that they had only been given in response to misbehavior, that they were never given in the heat of anger, and that they were almost always given by Father, and always with an open hand.

On the next day Daughter disclosed to some friends that she had been spanked with a wooden spoon. One of them reported, or “tricked” Daughter into reporting, the matter to school authorities. An unnamed “mandated child abuse reporter[]”—manifestly a school employee—filled out a “suspected child abuse report.” (Emphasis omitted.) Under “[i]ncident [i]nformation,” the reporter wrote, “Victim says she gets ‘smack’ by parents when she is not doing what parents are expecting from her. She said Mom hits her with a wooden spoon and Dad hits her with his hand. Last time she was hit was on 4/29/10 on her botto[m] / picture was taken.”

That fact pattern set up a clear record for the court to decide whether parents can still use spoons or other objects to discipline their students. The case turned on the state definitions of abuse, which are extremely vague. Under state law, a report is “‘[s]ubstantiated'” if the conduct reported is “determined by the investigator who conducted the investigation to constitute child abuse or neglect . . . , based upon evidence that makes it more likely than not that child abuse . . . occurred.” Since neglect was not alleged, the case turned to two definitions of abuse. First is the “‘willful harming or injuring of a child,” is defined as “willfully caus[ing] or permit[ting] any child to suffer, or inflict[ing] thereon, unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering.” (Pen. Code, § 11165.3.) Second is the “‘unlawful corporal punishment or injury,'” is defined as “willfully inflict[ing] upon any child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition.” (Pen. Code, § 11165.4.) There is a privilege recognized in California state however when “a reasonable person would find that punishment was necessary under the circumstances and that the . . . physical force used . . . was reasonable.” (CALCRIM No. 3405).

The panel faulted the trial court for refusing to consider such defenses by the mother. The panel held:

As we have said, a successful assertion of the parental disciplinary privilege requires three elements: (1) a genuine disciplinary motive; (2) a reasonable occasion for discipline; and (3) a disciplinary measure reasonable in kind and degree. . . .
The only question presenting any difficulty is whether the measure actually applied—spanking with a wooden spoon, with resulting bruises—was reasonable in kind and degree. To overlook as harmless the trial court’s failure to entertain the reasonable discipline privilege, it would have to appear as a matter of law either that a wooden spoon was an unreasonable means to administer the spanking, or that it was applied with excessive force.

We cannot say that the use of a wooden spoon to administer a spanking necessarily exceeds the bounds of reasonable parental discipline. Although no published California decision addresses this issue, the Attorney General has concluded that “[i]t is not unlawful for a parent to spank a child for disciplinary purposes with an object other than the hand,” provided that “the punishment [is] necessary and not excessive in relation to the individual circumstances.” . . .

Nor do we think that the infliction of visible bruises automatically requires a finding that the limits of reasonable discipline were exceeded. Certainly the presence of lasting bruises or other marks may support a finding that a parent crossed the line between permissible discipline and reportable abuse. . . . However, such effects alone [do not compel a finding of child abuse.

In some countries, any corporal punishment is treated as presumptively abusive. With four kids, I have yet to spank any of them though I consider spanking to be an option. I simply have never found it necessary. Not because my kids are angels. They can at times be close to feral, but I have found other alternative forms of punishment like taking away electronics (which is akin to an amputation for kids today). I grew up in a house where spanking occurred but not very often. My father (who was abused as a child) rarely spanked the kids and refused (unlike many of the fathers in our building in Chicago) to use a belt or a switch or any object. He used his bare hand and the kid was left fully clothed (despite my putting a magazine in my pants on one occasion). He would only briefly spank us — generally at the suggestion of my mother for severely bad conduct. Indeed, if you said you were sorry or cried, he would stop. (I would generally start to wail upon approaching my father and achieved a record low level of spanking — an early recognition of the value of throwing oneself on the mercy of the court. My next older brother — Christopher — on the other hand was a hard case and would refuse to cry or ask forgiveness.). With five kids, my parents found the threat of corporal punishment to be useful, even if rarely used. They are viewed (by us) as highly progressive because it was common for friends to be beaten by belts or sticks when we were growing up.

What do you think? Should any corporal punishment be viewed as abuse today?

Source: Mercury News

111 thoughts on “California Court Rules That Beating Child With Wooden Spoon Is Not Form Of Child Abuse”

  1. There may be subtle psychological differences, but from a practical standpoint, I doubt it.

    I don’t see how any study could be constructed to test the theory without violating all kinds of ethical, moral and human rights standards.

    1. OS wrote: “There may be subtle psychological differences, but from a practical standpoint, I doubt it.”

      I would say HUGE psychological differences in both parties involved. The parents have a natural affection, nurturing response toward their children. They also have an innate defensive, protective mechanism. Such is easily demonstrated, as I am sure you already know. The children are provided for by their parents, and as such, they have an innate sense of love and a bond that far transcends what exists toward their school teachers. All of these factors are at play causing parents to be extremely cautious toward punishment. These factors cause them to be much more careful toward applying punishment as discipline rather than as retribution or out of anger. These factors also work toward helping the child understand that the punishment is an expression of love, that the parent is acting in the best interest of the child.

      About 75% of parents practice spanking. Many of these object to schools spanking their children. Many States have outlawed corporal punishment in schools, and the ones who haven’t usually do not practice it. That statistic alone indicates a big difference between parental spanking and corporal punishment practiced by an institution.

      The reason I ask if you recognize the difference is because we start out talking about parental spanking, and then you shift to producing evidence regarding the establishment standards for corporal punishment within institutions. Such is not really applicable.

  2. Let me see if I have this right. You depend on a series of experiments Skinner did early in his career with the so-called Skinner box. Based on a handful of experiments then, you prefer to ignore the cumulative knowledge of one of the giants in research psychology which he summarized in a 450+ page book when he was in his 60s. In the book I linked to, Dr. Skinner summarized the cumulative knowledge he gained over the years, not only from his own research, but that of his students and colleagues. You also chose to ignore the official position paper of the American Psychological Association. And by the way, the American Psychiatric Association has a position paper on it as well. That paper says, in part:

    “The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry opposes the use of corporal punishment and supports legislation outlawing its use. Research on corporal punishment has shown that it may be harmful. Many other methods of discipline are effective in promoting self-control, eliminating undesirable behaviors, and promoting desired behaviors in children.

    Corporal punishment signals to the child that a way to settle
    interpersonal conflicts is to use physical force and inflict pain. Such children may in turn resort to such behavior themselves. They may also fail to develop trusting, secure relationships with adults and fail to evolve the necessary skills to settle disputes or wield authority in less violent ways. Supervising adults who willfully humiliate children and punish by force and pain are often causing more harm than they prevent.”

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has also weighed in on the subject in their professional journal.

    Harsh physical punishment in the absence of child maltreatment is associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders in a general population sample. These findings inform the ongoing debate around the use of physical punishment and provide evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders.”

    1. OS – I may offer more comments later, but please address this because you keep overlooking it. Do you think that there might be a difference between parents spanking their own flesh and blood children and schools spanking other people’s children?

  3. OT

    Darren, if you’re following this thread, you need to empty some of your email. The daemons say it is full to overflowing. 😀

  4. David, you know damn well that opinion of Skinner’s did not come from a single experiment. that is not how science works. Additional research has come from Social Psychology and Child Psychology as well. Those observations come from a century of cumulative research. However, Skinner wrote on the subject and summarized his observations in his book, Science and Human Behavior, first published in 1965. It was republished by the B. F. Skinner Foundation in 2005.

    As for Skinner Boxes, that was a single series of experiments among thousands. Almost all the studies he and his students published in professional journals are behind paywalls. There are thousands of them, literally.

    Here is some bedtime reading. I am sure you will comb thorough this looking for passages that will assuage your confirmation bias, but have at it.

  5. self evident David? Really. Who or what is your source for this self-evident right to hit children?? ??

  6. David,
    Once again you are in over your head. It is clear that you are not a psychologist, but are pretty quick with Google searches. Skinner identified multiple kinds of punishment, as well as negative reinforcement. The latter is a difficult concept to understand, especially for the layperson, who typically confuses it with pure punishment.

    Skinner was opposed to punishment as a means of behavior modification because it is unreliable. Furthermore, he pointed out that following punishments, the unwanted behavior almost always returns. The reason for this is no alternative is offered. Paddling, flogging, prison, and other such punishments do not teach the offender anything, and often have an effect opposite to what is desired.

    In his 1976 book, “About Behaviorism, Skinner wrote, “Punished behavior is likely to reappear after the punitive consequences are withdrawn,”

    The link takes you to the official policy statement of the American Psychological Association:

    1. OS – you are just spouting opinions and adding in a little spin. I remember learning about the Skinner boxes in college. One of my friends was studying psychology and ran Skinner boxes himself. I helped him a few times. I’m not claiming to be an expert. I just know you are not telling the truth when you claim that Skinner proved, through research and experimentation, that punishment doesn’t work.

      All you have to do to prove your case is show me the experiment by Skinner that proved punishment does not work. Just tell me which experiment did that. I know you will not bother because it does not exist. That’s why you send me to psychological organizations that vote on it. Voting is not real science. Voting is used a lot in modern science, but it really is not science per se.

      Even looking at their ruling, it does not address parental spanking, only spanking within institutions. Furthermore, it admits to corporal punishment being effective if it is done with precision in regard to timing, duration, intensity, and specificity. Their concern is that institutions like schools will not apply attention to all these factors that make corporal punishment effective.

      In any case, punishment alone is not the way to teach. I personally like and prefer positive reinforcement and rational explanations. Nevertheless, sometimes punishment is the best tool for the situation. It entirely depends upon circumstances. And punishment might not involve a physical strike. A strong negative verbal tone is punishment too.

      1. “OS – you are just spouting opinions and adding in a little spin. I remember learning about the Skinner boxes in college. One of my friends was studying psychology and ran Skinner boxes himself. I helped him a few times. I’m not claiming to be an expert. I just know you are not telling the truth when you claim that Skinner proved, through research and experimentation, that punishment doesn’t work.”


        That was probably the most ignorant thing you have posted here. You simply don’t understand who OS is.

        1. Mike Spindell wrote: “You simply don’t understand who OS is.”

          I know that he got his doctorate in psychology from Ole Miss and worked in the Mississippi State Hospital for ten years before going into private practice. I know that he works in forensic psychology and is a senior level examiner for Board Certification examinations. He has treated sex offenders and has been involved in many cases involving child custody, competency, and the insanity defense. He has reminded us numerous times what a great expert he is in psychology. All of this is why he has such bias and spouts opinion that goes beyond facts. He claims Skinner proved that corporal punishment does not work, forgetting the results of the actual skinner boxes that provided electrical shocks as punishment to rats. Instead, he relies upon Skinner’s opinions from late in his life, and he arranges information to buttress his own biased opinion on the matter. He is your normal establishment guy who totes the party line. That is what has made him successful, so he is going to stick by that. Many people will bow to him because of his great credentials, and that makes him feel justified in his opinions being put forward as facts.

          1. “He is your normal establishment guy who totes the party line.”


            The psychological defense mechanism known as projection is at play in your mind here. You are the quintessential Party (Republican) Line person who comments here. Everything you write comes directly from their playbook and your ignoring cogent arguments bespeaks their common “in-the-bubble” mindset. However, you would like to think of yourself as one whose thought is unconstrained by pre-suppositions, so you ascribe your own rigid thought processes another, rather than admit the humiliating truth to yourself.

            1. Mike Spindell wrote: “You are the quintessential Party (Republican) Line person who comments here. Everything you write comes directly from their playbook and your ignoring cogent arguments bespeaks their common “in-the-bubble” mindset.”

              LOL. You really think I have some Republican playbook that I consult? Nonsense. There are many ways in which I depart from the Republican party. For example, I have greatly different views about immigration. I do not believe that the rights outlined in the Constitution apply only to citizens, as most Republicans say, but rather that these rights exist for every human being. I deplore what is happening at Guantanamo and cannot fully understand why Obama has not closed it like he promised. I don’t like the Patriot Act either, unlike many Republicans. And I differ from them somewhat on the abortion issue. We agree in principle with the idea of promoting life, but we disagree about the reasons. I do not believe a complete person exists at the moment of conception.

              The primary reason I joined the Republican party is because I find them to be nicer and smarter than Democrats. They actually form opinions based in logic, facts and reality rather than emotion and superficial fantasies about programs that cannot work. Democrats seem to be among the nastiest people I have ever encountered. Just look at the volume of posts that have been directed with vile toward me. I never see Republicans do this, even when I disagree with them. For the most part, they have more respect, and they actually engage in the arguments rather than just demonize the person who disagrees with them.

              Concerning the accusation that I ignore cogent arguments, please name one please.

  7. Gene H: You know how we cephalopods are. When a ship comes our way we just can’t help ourselves! And if you think MOM’s belt we big, you should have seen Dad’s razor strop! 🙂

  8. In spite of being raised in an abusive environment, or more likely because of it, I no longer hit any of my nieces or nephews, some of whom have spent quite a bit of time with me. Did I at one time? yes. One nephew was a huge bundle of energy, always in motion and usually where he shouldn’t be. I hit him once with a wooden spoon in spite of his begging me not to. My reaction was shame at what I had done to this great kid that I saw come into this world. I vowed never to hit a child again and I haven’t.

    My sister-in-law was sure her toddler was spilling juice just to antagonize her and she would slap him. And she would spank him for other behaviors that are typical for the age. She eventually stopped. When I asked her why, she said that spanking didn’t work. A short timeout was more effective.

    My sister was about three or four when she insisted on locking the bedroom and bathroom door in spite of my admonitions that she not lock the door. My assurances that I would knock before entering didn’t help. Her persistence was frustrating since she was so inclined to try to please me (a characteristic in all the children). Then a flash of insight. She didn’t know that pushing the button in the center of doorknob was the lock. Her disobedience was due to ignorance, not insolence.

    The point of discipline is to guide children to society’s norms of acceptable behaviors. There are many ways to do this and if violence of any kind is the only way to achieve it, then there is something wrong with the parenting, not the child.

  9. David,
    We have been down this road before. Here is what I call a Great Truth. Any time you get a group of scientists together, there are inevitably going to be disagreements. Usually not about the total truth of a theory, but about details or degree. Sometimes there will be breakaway factions. That is the way any scientific investigation works.

    The fallacy lies in the need of some people to grab onto minority opinions as if they are the findings of the larger study group. That is an appeal to authority fallacy, in which the”authority” is the one out of step.

    Additionally, even when there is disagreement, the ethical and moral thing to do is err on the side of human rights and caution rather than authoritarianism and violation of rights.

  10. Question for David: Would you agree that children who are spanked by their parents are more likely to submit to a spanking from a non-parent?

    You state that only a parent has that right. However, I get the impression that it’s a minority of spanking parents who proactively tell their child in no uncertain terms that it’s never OK for another adult besides Mom or Dad to spank him or her—no matter how badly he or she has misbehaved.

    I don’t know if you warned your daughter when she was a child that some adults may have bad reasons for wanting to spank her. I do wish more parents would take that precaution, especially after reading about predators like this:

    Jefferson County, Colorado
    Administration and Courts Facility
    100 Jefferson County Parkway
    Golden, Colorado 80419

    For Immediate Release – Apr 4, 2008

    Contact: Pam Russell
    DA Public Information

    Re: Michael DiPalma Sentenced


    Michael David DiPalma appeared today in Jefferson County Court and was sentenced to Intensive Supervision Sex Offender Probation for a period of ten years to life and two years in the county jail. The 33-year-old former day camp teacher pled guilty on January 25 to Sexual Assault of a Child, a class four felony.

    Michael DiPalma, who now lives in Centennial, worked at a Lakewood recreation center teaching Elementary Engineering Using Lego and Elementary Robotics Using Lego in July 2006. One of the students, an 8-year-old boy, was singled out by DiPalma. The boy was given a sticky note and told to make a checkmark on it every time he didn’t follow DiPalma’s instructions. The boy was told he would receive a spanking for each check mark. On July 27, 2006, when the other children were on lunch break, DiPalma lured the boy to his car and put him into the back seat. DiPalma then drove to the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex then climbed into the back seat with the boy. He put the boy on his lap, pulled down his pants and spanked him 20 times on his bare buttocks. The spanking left marks and DiPalma told him not to tell or that he would go to the boy’s house and spank him harder. When the boy’s mother picked him up at the end of the day, he told her what had happened. The family reported the incident to the Lakewood Police Department.

    DiPalma’s case went trial in September, 2006 but the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

    The jury heard evidence that in May 2006 DiPalma had worked for a company called “Computer Tots’, teaching an after-school class at Steck Elementary School in Denver. In that class he asked the second graders to vote on which of them should be spanked. He spanked at least two 7-year-olds before his employment at Steck Elementary was terminated.

    Court records also indicate that DiPalma had been accused of unlawful sexual contact of a child, kidnapping, and false imprisonment in 1999 in New Mexico. The boy and girl who were named as victims in that case were 10-year-olds and they did not know DiPalma. He was given a deferred judgment and probation.

    DiPalma was remanded to the custody of the Sheriff following the sentencing. He will be required to register as a sex offender.

  11. Mike,
    My daughter likes to watch Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) on TV. My brother in law is a professional dog trainer. When was the last time you saw Cesar hit an animal. Stern consistent discipline yes, hitting no. My BiL doesn’t hit animals either.

    1. “When was the last time you saw Cesar hit an animal.”


      My own first dog was Snuffy, a pit bull. I raised him myself from a pup and never once hit him. A stern look, or a firm word was all that was necessary.
      Many days he was on a leash in a doghouse we built for him in a garage. One Sunday we were all at home watching football and we heard a ruckus coming from the garage. When we got outside we saw him holding off two of our neighbors Doberman’s that had gotten loose. He was a fiercely protective dog, but was highly approachable. My sister-In-Law and Brother raised Lhasa in the 70’s and even showed that at the Westminster Show at MSG. They had a brood of six that they never hit. It simply isn’t necessary if you know what you’re doing.

      When it comes to children they will react to your firmness of direction and in direct proportion to the love you show them. Fairness too, adds int the mix. If they are loved they want to please you. This is not to say that appropriate times we didn’t throw in a little of the famous “Jewish Guilt” for effect, but the idea of hitting someone you love is an anathema to me. As I said in my opening comment when it comes to Child Welfare there is a need to balance alternatives. When you remove a child the assessment has to be made as to whether you are removing them to a better environment, since the Foster Care system can be terrible at times. In this case we’re discussing I would not have made the removal. I worked for a time as a Director of Drug Counseling for a non-profit Foster Care Agency. Though the people running the place did seem to care for the children I found their group homes a problematic environment.

  12. David, I know what Larzelere said. His opinions were reviewed before the final draft was published. Like you, he is entitled to his opinion, even when wrong, or when he misinterprets the data.

  13. OS – if you are ignorant of these studies supporting spanking, how about just reading your own link.

    As in many areas of science, some researchers disagree about the validity of the studies on physical punishment. Robert Larzelere, PhD, an Oklahoma State University professor who studies parental discipline, was a member of the APA task force who issued his own minority report because he disagreed with the scientific basis of the task force recommendations. While he agrees that parents should reduce their use of physical punishment, he says most of the cited studies are correlational and don’t show a causal link between physical punishment and long-term negative effects for children.

    “The studies do not discriminate well between non-abusive and overly severe types of corporal punishment,” Larzelere says. “You get worse outcomes from corporal punishment than from alternative disciplinary techniques only when it is used more severely or as the primary discipline tactic.”

    In a meta-analysis of 26 studies, Larzelere and a colleague found that an approach they described as “conditional spanking” led to greater reductions in child defiance or anti-social behavior than 10 of 13 alternative discipline techniques, including reasoning, removal of privileges and time out (Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2005). Larzelere defines conditional spanking as a disciplinary technique for 2- to 6-year-old children in which parents use two open-handed swats on the buttocks only after the child has defied milder discipline such as time out.

  14. pete, It indeed is, the same town. My folks used to take us to The Great Barrington Fair and we have eaten @ Alice’s Restaurant. And, my old man always let us kids got “anything we want,” as long as we ate it.

  15. A growing body of research has shown that spanking and other forms of physical discipline can pose serious risks to children, but many parents aren’t hearing the message.
    “It’s a very controversial area even though the research is extremely telling and very clear and consistent about the negative effects on children,” says Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD, a psychology professor and principal investigator for the Child Violence and Trauma Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “People get frustrated and hit their kids. Maybe they don’t see there are other options.”


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