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    Spanking isn’t child abuse according to Ohio court


    A father who was found guilty of child abuse after giving his nine-year-old daughter one swat as discipline had the verdict overturned by an Ohio appeals court last month. A lower court judge had offered to dismiss the case if Jeffrey Clark agreed not to spank his daughter again, but Clark refused to give up his parental right to corporal punishment.

    Clark administered one swat to his daughter with a paddle. He didn’t use his hand because he believes that hands should be reserved for affectionate touches. When his daughter returned to her mother’s home (Clark and the mother have been divorced for years) the mother allegedly discovered a bruise. No pictures were taken of the bruise, and the mother did not call a physician. In fact, Clark visited his daughter the next day without comment from her mother.

    “Child abuse is a serious matter in our society and should be treated as such,” said Thomas W. Condit, the Rutherford Institute affiliate attorney who handled the case. “But cases like this trivialize the concept when one swat is considered abuse.”

    The Twelfth Appellate District Court of Appeals in Middletown, Ohio, found that Clark did not seriously or permanently damage his daughter in overturning the trial court verdict.

    “Parents and not the government are the ones responsible for raising and disciplining their children,” said Kelly Shackelford, southwest regional coordinator for The Rutherford Institute. “We are pleased that this attempted government intrusion into the family has been rejected. The Rutherford Institute will continue to fight to insure that our children do not become ‘children of the state.'”

    The Rutherford Institute is an international, nonprofit civil liberties organization specializing in the defense of religious liberty.

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