Spanking 'reasonable use of force,' court rules in Suffolk case

Spanking your child on the behind is a Spanking your child on the behind is a reasonable use of force, the state court of appeals ruled in the case of a Long Island father who took the disciplinary action at a party. Photo Credit: iStock

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Spanking your child on the behind is a reasonable use of force, a state appeals court ruled in the case of a Suffolk County father who took the disciplinary action at a party.

Last week's ruling by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court dismissed a child neglect proceeding against a man who, in October 2012, spanked his 8-year-old son for cursing at an adult during the party at a friend's house.

In March 2013, the father was ruled in neglect by the Suffolk County Family Court after the county's Department of Social Services said he spanked the child with an open hand as punishment and then, returning home, struck his son with a belt on his "buttocks, legs and arms."

"We find that the Family Court's finding of neglect was not supported by a preponderance of the credible evidence," the appellate court said in its ruling Wednesday.

The father admitted spanking the child but denied striking him with a belt, the ruling said. Neither the name of the father nor the child was released by the court.

"The father's open-handed spanking of the child as a form of discipline after he heard the child curse at an adult was a reasonable use of force and, under the circumstances presented here, did not constitute excessive corporal punishment," the appeals court ruling said.

The neglect ruling was dismissed, the court said, because evidence collected at a fact-finding hearing that the father hit his son with a belt "was insufficient to prove that allegation."

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Glenn Gucciardo, the Northport attorney representing the boy, said Monday he couldn't comment on child-protective proceeding cases. Prosecutor Dennis Brown said, "We presented the facts of the case and respect the decision of the court."

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