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Domestic CP - November 2006

Corpun file 18584

Herald Sun, Durham, N.Carolina, 7 November 2006

N.C. Court of Appeals

Corporal punishment not necessarily abuse

By Estes Thompson
Associated Press Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Spanking a child -- even hitting him with a belt and causing a bruise -- isn't child abuse if it doesn't cause serious physical injury, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The decision came in an appeal by a Pender County father who was convicted of abusing his son and neglecting other children. The Court of Appeals reversed the finding by Pender County District Court Judge Phyllis Gorham.

A 13-year-old boy, identified in court documents only as "Th.B.", told a social worker he had been abused because his father hit him with a belt and created a bruise on his buttocks.

"In his appeal, the father argues that corporal punishment, i.e., spanking, standing alone, does not constitute abuse," the court said. "We agree."

Abuse causes serious physical injury, the court said. Cases showing abuse have included parents who pulled out a child's hair, burned them or hit them with their fists, all of which require immediate medical attention.

"Here, the only injury reported by Th.B. and found by the trial court was bruising on Th.B.'s right arm and buttocks as a result of the father's spanking," the court said.

"Serious physical injury constituting abuse has been found in cases where the child received an injury more severe than a bruise as a result of a spanking. This court has previously declined to find that spanking that resulted in a temporary bruise constituted abuse."

The case began Dec. 22, 2004, when Th.B. went with siblings "Ti.B" and "J.B." to the Pender County Department of Social Services and told social worker Latesha Nixon that his father beat him with a belt. She didn't see bruises on the others.

Social Services filed a petition that alleged the three children as well as 1-year-old "C.B." were abused and neglected, and the court took them into custody.

Th.B. testified at a March 2005 hearing that his father hit him because he missed the church bus and misbehaved when he was on it. He also said he had fallen on a board the day before and didn't look at his buttocks to see if they were bruised before the belting.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

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