Spare the Rod, Embrace Our Humanity: Toward a New Legal Regime Prohibiting Corporal Punishment of Children

This article proceeds from the simple premise that hitting children hurts them-even when the hitting does not rise to the level of child abuse as traditionally conceived. There is convincing evidence that corporal punishment is a hidden cruelty in child rearing that has serious adverse consequences for its victims and society at large. Yet forty-nine states permit parental corporal punishment of children and approximately half of the states permit such punishment in elementary and secondary schools The main purpose of this Article is to question the advisability of continuing the legalized status of corporal punishment of children in the United States, especially when the punishment is administered by parents or guardians The Article presents a new framework for analysis by surveying the laws of those countries and the one state that have prohibited all corporal punishment of children and by examining international human rights instruments that may be interpreted to support such laws. The Article also explores the psychological, sociological, and ethical considerations warranting prohibition and presents a new proposal for law reform on the subject.