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Court: Wooden-spoon spanking not child abuse

(SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE) A Santa Clara County woman who spanked her 12-year-old daughter in the rear with a wooden spoon should not have been labeled a child abuser, said a state appeals court Tuesday, ruling that social workers and judges must consider a parent’s right to impose “reasonable discipline” on a child.

The Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose stopped short of deciding whether Veronica Gonzalez had acted reasonably and legally when she swatted her daughter several times in 2010, hard enough to leave bruises, after the child stopped doing most of her schoolwork and lied to her parents.

But the court said the Santa Clara County Department of Social Services had violated Gonzalez’s rights by disregarding parents’ authority to discipline their children and refusing to allow testimony by the daughter, who disputed many of the social worker’s accusations against her mother. The court said the department must either hold a new hearing or dismiss the case.