Spanking: Is It a Good Parenting Move, or a Bad One? (Pt. 2)

December 20, 2017 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Wooden spoon for spanking
Wooden spoons are a common item used by parents for physical discipline.

In the previous article we looked at what Michigan law had to say about spanking, as well as what recent research shows about the long term effects of physical discipline. For many people, despite what scientific studies reveal, they were raised by parents who spanked them and they believe it’s the best way to discipline a child. But despite the fact that the law supports their choice within limits, they may still have concerns about CPS getting involved in the way they raise their children. And rightly so.

Children’s Protective Services (CPS) takes a dim view of spanking since they feel that the line between physical discipline and physical abuse is too fine for most parents to see. And in some cases they are right. But in many instances they are wrong, and loving, mindful parents are made into pariahs in the name of protecting children from abuse. Thankfully, however, CPS doesn’t have the final say in these matters.

Not all spanking cases end up with criminal convictions!

An example of this is the 2016 case of Mara A. Hess-Schoonveld. A 24-year-old resident of Bay City, MI, Hess-Schoonveld was accused of “excessively spanking her 6-year-old step-daughter” – an allegation for which she was charged with felony third degree child abuse.

According to court records, law enforcement became involved in the matter when Hess-Schoonveld’s step-daughter was taken to a local hospital for treatment by her biological mother. Apparently the girl’s mother had been bathing her daughter when she noticed red marks on the girl’s buttocks and called 911. The girl told officers that her step-mother had spanked her several times for three days in a row on her bare buttocks.

There’s often more to the story than first meets the eye…

But once all the facts came out in court, it was revealed that the girl’s stepmother had tried everything she could think of before resorting to spanking in a desperate attempt to get the girl to eat. The jury spent three hours in deliberations before announcing that Hess-Schoonveld was not guilty of criminal child abuse. According to media sources who were present at the trial, one of the jurors shouted “Congratulations!” to Hess-Schoonveld on their way out of the building.

Another example of a parent incorrectly labelled as an abuser was the case of Elizabeth Singler. Back in 2015 Singler, a married mother to seven children, was accused of using a wooden paddle to spank one of her children. Singler was arrested and charged with third degree felony child abuse and domestic violence. But just days before her trial, where she faced the terrifying reality of two years in prison, the charges against her were dropped.

If you choose to spank your children, be very careful to comply with the law.

Corporal punishment of children is a very controversial subject here in Michigan and it likely always will be. But whether you advocate for spanking, or prefer other methods of discipline, remember that the choice is yours to make as a parent so long as those choices do not result in damage or injury to a child.

In the event that you become involved in a police or CPS investigation where your parenting choices are questioned, contact us immediately at 866 766 5245. Our experienced child abuse and neglect defense attorneys have spent decades defending the parents of Michigan against false allegations and trumped up charges. We can help you to.