Adrian Peterson, running back for the Washington Redskins, may be in trouble once again for how he disciplines his children. Four years ago, the football player beat his then-4-year-old son with a switch so badly that the child bore bruises and lacerations on his back, buttocks and scrotum.
At the time, Peterson was charged with felony child abuse, but plead down to misdemeanor domestic violence. He was sentenced to eighty hours of community service and a $4,000 fine. He also faced an NFL suspension for the incident.
Peterson recently told Bleacher Report, an online sports website, that he still uses corporal punishment on his six children, and had struck his child with a belt a few days prior. This confession might put him back in hot water with the police and child protection workers.
In Canada, section 43 of the Criminal Code permits teachers, parents, and guardians to use force on a child between 2 and 12 under their care, as long as the force is reasonable.
Canadian courts have set some guidelines as to what is considered reasonable. Corporal punishment cannot use rulers, belts, and cannot involve striking a child on the head. Such punishments must further be “transitory and trifling.”
The family law implications of corporal punishment that exceeds “reasonable force” is severe. In fact, children can be removed from the care of one or both parents if the punishment exceeds reasonable force. In instances of divorce, accusations and charges relating to child abuse can result in sole custody orders in favor of the non-abusive parent.
If parents or police have concerns about child abuse, the Children’s Aid Society will investigate the allegations. Their reports can have great impact on custody and access cases. A children’s lawyer may also be appointed to protect the interests of the child and make sure those interests are expressed by Order of a judge or request of a party.
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