Guest Post: Child Abusers Astroturfing

Filed in Delaware by on June 29, 2012

One of our readers, Brooke Bovard, has written this guest post.

Delaware, as a ‘blue’ state, and without much to steal, is new to the game of being targeted by the Right. Sure, they tried to foist Christine O’Donnell on us, but they can’t be trying too hard, right?

Sadly, wrong. A case in point is action on SB 234, which deals with the presumably bipartisan priority of preventing child abuse. But, not so fast, L’il Pilgrim. According to the email alert sent out by the Home School Legal Defense Association:

Anti-Spanking Bill Passes House Committee

If SB 234 is passed into law, parents could go to jail for disciplining their children.

Dee Black answers questions and provides legal assistance for members in Delaware. He and his wife homeschooled all four of their children.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Bad news! Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 234 by a unanimous vote of 7–0. It now goes to the full House of Representatives, which will vote on it either today, tomorrow, or Saturday. Your calls and emails are needed to convince members of the House that Delaware citizens do not want to make it a crime for parents to spank their own children.

Senate Bill 234, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Patricia M. Blevins (District 7), creates a definition of the term “physical injury” in the child abuse and neglect laws to include “pain.” Currently the law permits a parent to use force to punish a child for misconduct, but it prohibits any act that is likely to cause or does cause physical injury. By defining “physical injury” to include the infliction of pain on a child, spanking would become a crime in Delaware punishable by imprisonment for up to two years.

It has a sample letter to please call or email your rep, and another “action item” to forward this to every family you know who is not already on the HSLDA list.

Anyone want to make some calls on the other side?

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Comments (9)

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  1. cassandra_m says:

    Biden’s office put out a Press Release which you can read here. (pdf)

    Interesting how different the two interpretations of this law is.

  2. socialistic ben says:

    How broad or narrow IS the actual law?

  3. xstryker says:

    This bill establishes the offense of Child Abuse. These new statutes combine current statutes and redefine physical injury and serious physical injury to reflect the medical realities of pain and impairment suffered by children. A new section provides special protection to infants, toddlers and children who have disabilities. The statute also expands the state of mind necessary for certain offenses against children allowing for more effective prosecution of parents who subject their children to abuse by others and fail to protect their children. The bill also re-numbers the definitional section making clear that the definitions apply to all crimes in the subchapter.

    (j) “Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition or
    (k) “Serious physical injury” shall mean physical injury which creates a risk of death, or which causes disfigurement, impairment of health or loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb, or which causes the unlawful termination of a pregnancy without the consent of the pregnant female.”

    �1103. Child Abuse in the third degree; class A misdemeanor.
    (a) A person is guilty of child abuse in the third degree when:
    (1) The person recklessly or intentionally causes physical injury to a child through an act of abuse and/or neglect of such child; or
    (2) The person recklessly or intentionally causes physical injury to a child when the person has engaged in a previous pattern of abuse and/or neglect of such child.

    As far as I can see, if they really want to spank their children, they should request the insertion of a single word: “serious” as in serious pain. But I’m anti-spanking to begin with. Violence is the first resort of someone who has no idea how to discipline a child. It only teaches children that violence is an acceptable way to resolve a conflict.

  4. puck says:

    Is there anything here that isn’t already covered under assault laws?

    Too many grownups have far too much fascination with children’s asses. In Delaware you are allowed to smack your child’s ass, but if you rub it you are a sex offender. Maybe smacking it should also get you locked up as a sex offender.

    You are allowed to sleep with a 16 year old (if you are under 30), but don’t take a suggestive picture of her or give her an alcoholic drink. What a world, what a world.

  5. Dave says:

    A simple change in the following sentence would go a long way to improving the bill.

    (j) “Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition or

    Replace “or” with “and” so that the sentence reads:

    (j) “Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition and pain.

    Spanking causes pain but no physical impairment. Abuse is likely to cause both.

  6. xstryker says:

    There are definitely some good wording changes in the bill which make it easier for prosecutors to avoid situations where a child was clearly harmed, but the perpetrator walks because they claim they didn’t think it would really do that must damage. Like, “oh, I didn’t know that boxing the ears would make her deaf!” – they replace “knowingly” with “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly”. It’s a lot easier to prove that the act in question was reckless than it is to prove the perpetrator knew the actions would cause injury. Sending your child outside to run laps for two hour as punishment when the temperature is 104 degrees is reckless regardless of whether you knew that it would lead to heatstroke.

  7. V says:

    I heard straight from people who worked on the bill that the reason the wrote the bill was because it was nearly impossible under the current assault laws (either assult 3, offensive touching etc.) to get a decent conviction on someone who had done serious injury to a child. Basically because it’s not always easy to show under the current adult laws all the elements necessary to prove the charge in situations with abuse of children.

    They aren’t going after spankings, they’re trying to be able to get someone who’s holding lit cigarettes to their baby’s legs on more than a low level misdemeanor.

  8. walt says:

    Spare the whip, spoil the child. Look at Wilmington.

  9. Brooke says:

    How about tasers? Can I taser that baby who wouldn’t use the toilet? People do, you know. How about forcefeeding them cayenne? Because they “lied.” How about leaving them outside?

    But it doesn’t cause “injury”, so it isn’t an offense.

    There is no danger that someone is “going to jail for two years” for swatting a child on the bottom. Our legal system has many bigger fish to fry. But this is part of HSLDA’s agenda of ‘parent’s rights’,

    Please look around this website. They’re not kidding, they have money, and your state is on their radar.