What Is Reasonable Discipline?
The Right to Discipline
Under the watchful eyes of the State, many parents are unsure as to how they can discipline their child without it being considered abuse. The term corporal punishment (i.e. physical punishment) often invokes harsh judgments. But in many states, parents may use reasonable discipline—a degree of corporal punishment—which is legal in the eyes of the law.
New Jersey allows parents to use reasonable discipline when it comes to corporal acts of punishment. Unreasonable or excessive corporal punishment, however, is illegal and could constitute child abuse. But what is considered reasonable isn’t a scientific measure by any means. Typically determined on a case by case basis, common factors that are considered in child abuse cases involving corporal punishment include:
- Whether the child was injured and how severely
- Whether the parent or caregiver used excessive force, was reckless, or intentionally inflicted injury
- Whether the punishment was appropriate for the child’s age, size, and maturity