Florida Discipline: Beat, Don’t Maim, by Harper’s Staff

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August 1994 Issue [Readings]

Florida Discipline: Beat, Don’t Maim


From a bill passed in April by the Florida legislature that gives parents the legal right to use corporal punishment to discipline their children. Although 143 of the 160 legislators voted in favor of the bill, Governor Lawton Chiles vetoed it in May.

Corporal punishment of a child by a parent does not in itself constitute child abuse. Corporal punishment may be considered excessive or abusive when it results in any of the following injuries:

a. Sprains, dislocations, or cartilage damage
b. Bone or skull fractures
c. Brain or spinal-cord damage
d. Intercranial hemorrhage or injury to other internal organs
e. Asphyxiation, suffocation, or drowning
f. Injury resulting from the use of a deadly weapon
g. Burns or scalding
h. Cuts, lacerations, punctures, or bites
i. Permanent or temporary disfigurement
j. Permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a bodily part or function
k. Significant bruises or welts

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