The Potential Consequences of Spanking Your Child

The Potential Consequences of Spanking Your Child

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently issued a new policy statement which advises that parents should not spank children in any circumstance.  Researchers have linked corporal punishment, yelling at and shaming children as minimally effective short-term and not effective in the long term. More concerning is the fact that verbal and physical abuse can change the child’s brain architecture and can lead to emotional problems, learning problems and aggressive behavior as children grow older.

Although corporal punishment is legal in Virginia, it is disfavored by the majority of Judges involved in custody litigation and family law and believe it should be avoided at all times.  The Virginia statutes governing the determination of custody specifically include consideration of any history of family abuse, which can include a history of corporal punishment depending on the views of the Judge.

Corporal punishment can also lead to child abuse charges; notwithstanding the fact that corporal punishment is legal in Virginia.  This is particularly true if your child is injured during the punishment. The Court will consider the circumstances under which the child was punished, the act for which the child was being punished, how the child was punished and whether or not any other steps were taken before engaging in corporal punishment.  The Courts have considered the use of an object versus a hand and whether a parent was acting in anger as factors to be considered when assessing the reasonableness of a parents actions.

For more information, about corporal punishment in Virginia, see:

Harbough v. Comm, 209 Va. 695 (1969)  (

For more information of effective discipline techniques, see:

The Potential Consequences of Spanking Your Child

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