Yahoo! News reports,
The issue of spanking has divided parents for years. But one state in the United States may be taking a side. Earlier this month, Governor Jack Markell passed a controversial Delaware bill–criminalizing the act of recklessly or intentionally causing physical pain on a child.
Bill 234, sponsored by Delaware’s Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins, asserts that when a “person recklessly or intentionally causes physical injury to a child through an act of abuse and/or neglect of such child” it is considered third degree child abuse and a class A misdemeanor.
The ambiguity of the definition of “physical injury” has prompted the law to be unofficially dubbed a “spanking ban” by some and has sparked debate over the state’s right to interfere with personal parenting practices.
But one of the bill’s biggest proponents, Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, has been adamant that spanking isn’t the target of the law. “This will not do anything to interfere with a parent’s right or ability to parent as they see fit, but it also makes it clear that if you abuse a child in any way, shape or form, we’re going to have a statute that we’re going to be able to use to protect kids,” he stated.
So why didn’t they include a clause that protects parents who spank from prosecution? It’s not that simple, Patricia Dailey-Lewis, of the Attorney General’s Office, tells Delaware WBOC news. “If we said it’s okay to spank your child, and then we have a child who ends up dead from spanking, well, gee, we didn’t mean that, we didn’t mean kill. We didn’t mean break their arm. It’s such a vague area.”
“I can’t say that no one’s ever going to be prosecuted,” Dailey-Lewis continues, “Because like I told you, we have children who have been spanked and have died from it.”
In the wake of the backlash, the Attorney General’s office plans to launch a campaign outlining exactly what’s considered reasonable discipline, and to inform parents of their rights.