Hitting Your Child: Discipline or Abuse?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 17, 2022 | 0 Comments

Every New Jersey parent has a different approach to disciplining their child. Although it's taboo to give unsolicited parenting advice these days, parents need to know about one very important line they shouldn't cross. That line is the threshold that marks where child discipline ends, and where child abuse begins. Often, child abuse is obvious, but there are other times when a parent gets accused of abuse in New Jersey, despite the claims being unjustified. Anyone can report you for child abuse, and some people, like teachers, are even required to report suspected child abuse.

While New Jersey child abuse laws are designed to protect children, mistakes happen. Good parents are accused of child abuse every day and must mount a serious defense even when they've done nothing wrong. If or when this happens to you, you need to contact a family law attorney immediately.

Child Abuse vs. Child Discipline in New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, physical discipline, like striking a child, will be considered abuse if the action constitutes cruelty. Disciplinary action will constitute cruelty if it's unnecessarily severe. Cruelty is a subjective term, and as such, people can disagree about what it means, but generally, physical discipline of a child could be considered cruel if:

  • The discipline results in marks, bruises, or other injuries.
  • The discipline severely traumatizes the child.
  • The discipline drastically outweighs the child's misbehavior.

Of course, sometimes parents spank their children harder than they meant to and leave a mark. Sometimes children fall on the playground and end up with bruises. While abuse does happen, it doesn't occur nearly as frequently as it's reported. The truth is that if you use corporal punishment to discipline your children, and many parents do, you must prepare for being accused of abuse at some point.

Ramifications of Crossing the Line

If you're accused of child abuse in NJ, you need to seek legal help right away. Parents who are unable to defend themselves against child abuse claims adequately could have their kids taken away from them. This is never a good situation for the kids as it's disruptive, and some kids are put into state-run programs. In addition to losing custody, accused parents might face criminal charges, which only adds to the stress and emotion of the situation.

Call a NJ Family Law Attorney Right Away

If you or someone you love needs help after an accusation of child abuse for striking your child in New Jersey, call family law attorney Joseph D. Lento. Mr. Lento and his dedicated team at the Lento Law Firm, have routinely helped parents after someone has accused them of child abuse. Mr. Lento knows these scenarios are scary for the parent and the child and that the stakes couldn't be higher. To learn how Mr. Lento and his team can help you, call 888-535-3686 today, or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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