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South Carolina

• At what point does the physical discipline of a child by a parent become "child abuse"? This difficult question was addressed in a recent South Carolina case. A father beat his 13-year old daughter with a belt, and hit her on the face with his hand (while wearing a large college ring). Five days later, the girl had large purple bruises covering most of the back of her legs and thighs, as well as a bruise on her face. The father felt that the beating was a proper exercise of parental discipline (his daughter allegedly told a lie), that it was a reasonable use of force, and that it was protected by the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom. He cited Proverbs 23:13-14: "Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die." The court concluded that the beating constituted child abuse, and that it was not excused on the grounds of either ...

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  • September 1, 1988