Introduced by Senator Sears from Bennington District
Subject: Crimes; breach of the peace; domestic assault; corporal punishment of a child
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to exclude reasonable parental discipline, including corporal punishment intended to promote the safety or welfare of the child, from the domestic assault statute.
AN ACT RELATING TO CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF A CHILD BY A PARENT
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. LEGISLATIVE INTENT
(a) This act is intended to clarify the law regarding corporal punishment of a child by a parent, in response to State v. Baron, 2004 VT 20, in which the Vermont Supreme Court expressed consternation about the legislative intent of the current law concerning this matter.
(b) The general assembly recognizes that under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a parent has a fundamental liberty interest in raising his or her child without undue interference by the state. Thus, it is not the role of the state to substitute its judgment for that of a parent in matters relating to corporal punishment of a child, provided that the punishment is not unreasonable. The general assembly is not making any judgment as to the appropriateness of corporal punishment of a child, but recognizing a parent’s rights with respect to the care and custody of his or her child.
Sec. 2. 13 V.S.A. § 1042 is amended to read:
§ 1042. DOMESTIC ASSAULT
(a) Any person who attempts to cause or wilfully or recklessly causes bodily injury to a family or household member, or wilfully causes a family or household member to fear imminent serious bodily injury shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.
(b) This section shall not apply to corporal punishment inflicted on a child by a parent, provided that:
(1) the punishment is used for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the child, including prevention or punishment of misbehavior;
(2) the punishment is reasonable in light of the age and condition of the child.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street