Controversy over child discipline

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The controversy over parents' right to discipline their children has reached national attention.

The state of Mississippi does not have a law that clearly defines the difference between child abuse and discipline.

"It's a test of reasonableness," said Lisa Nored, J.D., Ph.D., author and director school of criminal justice at USM.

Dr. Nored said, "You'll have law enforcement involved, maybe DHS (Department of Human Services,) and there will be an investigation to try to ascertain what occurred here. Did it cross the line and go from trying to teach the child a lesson and inflicting pain?"

Parents claim that child abuse is discipline, but many of those cases fall out of the 'reasonable discipline' category and those parents can be subject to prosecution from the state, according to Dr. Nored.

"I think sometimes there is this idea as a society that the pendulum has swung and we no longer agree with spanking and so all spanking is deemed abuse and that is not what the court system is dealing with," Dr. Nored said.

According to Dr. Nored, child abuse is usually determined if injury or harm is done to a child.

"Not everyone in this age has the same household and quality of parenting, that doesn't mean you can't do things differently when you're a parent yourself," Dr. Nored said.

Dr. Nored said it's important to engage in appropriate discipline of your children.

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