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Juneau Police Department

Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"


Q. Is it ok to use spanking for disciplining your child? With your hand? With a wooden spoon?


Dear Juneau Resident,

Reasonable physical discipline, including spanking, is legal. Child abuse is not. The fact is some parents are going to spank their children. The benefit of using an open, bare hand for those parents is they know how hard they are hitting. Hopefully when parents feel pain in their own hand, they will understand what level of pain is being inflicted and know when to stop.

The problem with using an item, like a wooden spoon, for spanking is the parent may not accurately judge the level of pain being inflicted and can go too far. The use of a wooden spoon does not automatically mean there is child abuse, it just means the parent has an increased risk of going too far and crossing into child abuse.

JPD would be concerned about any child who has marks on him or her from being hit, injuries to the face or head, or is experiencing frequent physical discipline. Dispatchers and officers are also alert to other signs of abuse including inadequate food, shelter or supervision. Probably the most common type of child abuse JPD runs into is when children are exposed to domestic violence.



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