Did Delaware Ban Spanking, Inching Towards the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child?


Did Delaware just ban spanking? A new law protecting children against child abuse is so non-specific as to appear to take in almost any type of corporal punishment, including spanking.

Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware signed Bill 234 into law on September 12. The problem in the way the new Delaware law is written comes from the following phrase in the law:

“Abuse” means causing any physical injury to a child. . . “Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition or pain.

The word “pain” is very general and takes in almost anything. When laws are written using general terms, it gives greater freedom to the government to interpret however they wish.

Spanking could now be child abuse – it inflicts pain. How do people discipline their children without causing some pain?

Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, said spanking is not the target of the law but deliberately left it vague to give government a great deal of latitude.

Biden said:

“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.”

That statement by AG Biden is somewhat concerning. It sounds like he wants a law that can be used by the Delaware government in almost any circumstance they see as unacceptable. It is important to protect our children but to have an all-encompassing law gives the government a lot of power.

If spanking is not the target, why not be more specific? I’ll tell you why, because, as he said, he wants a law that takes in every possibility.

It is not as if banning all corporal punishment isn’t being considered by the United States.

One of the rules of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Hillary Clinton hopes will pass, is to ban spanking one’s child and all corporal punishment for that matter. It hasn’t been ratified by the full senate, but it makes the Delaware law more concerning to some.

Thirty-two countries have banned corporal punishment to date. The Convention on the Rights of the Child bans corporal punishment. All but the U.S. and Somalia have signed on to it.

It reduces parental rights and increased governmental control over child-rearing. While aimed at stopping the sexual and economic exploitation of children and protecting their rights to an education, healthcare and economic opportunity, it also reaches into every parental right.

Canada has urged the passage of an anti-spanking law.

Studies have linked spanking to depression, anxiety, mania, and other mental disorders but I have not seen those studies.

According to The Toronto Glove and Mail, editor-in-chief John Fletcher of the ”Canadian Medical Association Journal” says multiple studies from reputable sources that say spanking is ineffective and a “flawed discipline tool.”

Fletcher says that physical punishment is “no better than eliciting compliance than other methods,” and has found that physical punishment like spanking can actually have adverse effects, like increased childhood aggression and emotional and behavioral problems in adulthood.

The article published in “The Toronto Glove and Mail” cites alternative discipline like timeouts, better communication of rules to children and “positive discipline.”

For every action, there is a study that says it’s wrong and there is a law that disallows it. The government can do anything they want.

Read more at Inquisitir and UPI



  1. Perhaps Delaware should explicitly define the difference between moderate force used as constructive discipline (moderate spanking) and abusive force. Having studied these laws world-wide, we believe the Canadian definitions (based on a 2004 Supreme Court Ruling on our own “Sec.43” laws) are the most optimally-balanced and empirically-correct that exist. If you wish to do some reading on this, we’ve posted it here: http://www.keep43.ca/definitions

    That’s actually NOT true, Delaware did not intend to criminalize most parents for moderately and constructively disciplining their children, what they attempted to do (somewhat poorly) was to narrow the definition of abuse.

    One must consider if the intent was to criminalize anything causing “pain”, well all consequences inflict pain, that’s called deterrence and that’s why consequences work. Taken literally, time-outs, sent to the bedroom, groundings, removal of privileges (TV. games, etc) all inflict MENTAL pain, and these would equally be banned. So obviously, that’s not the intent.

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