Spanking your child can send you to jail. Rosalina Gonzales was arrested in December 2010 for spanking her nearly two-year-old daughter. Social services took all three of her children (and had not returned them as of June 15, 2011). The judge sentenced her to five years probation and practically told her that spanking was illegal.
214th District Court Judge Jose Longoria made it very clear to her and everyone else that even a simple straight forward case of spanking is a crime.
* * *“You don’t spank children today,” said [Judge] Longoria, “in the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different [world]. You don’t spank children.” * * *[The mother will] be on probation for five years and during that time, will have to take parenting classes, follow all guidelines, and make a one-time $50 payment to the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Was Judge Longoria right? Is spanking illegal in Texas? You be the judge:
Texas Penal Code Section 9.61(a): “The use of force, but not deadly force, against a child younger than 18 years is justified: (1) if the actor is the child’s parent or stepparent or is acting in loco parentis to the child; and (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare…”
Texas Family Code Section 151.003: “A state agency may not adopt rules or policies or take any other action that violates the fundamental right and duty of a parent to direct the upbringing of the parent’s child.”
Texas Family Code Section 151.001(a) “A parent of a child has the following rights and duties: (1) the right to have physical possession, to direct the moral and religious training, and to designate the residence of the child; (2) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child…”
Texas Family Code Section 261.001(1): “‘Abuse’ includes the following acts or omissions by a person…(C) physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm…”
Unfortunately, the facts of this case remain unclear because Ms. Gonzales chose to plead guilty. (Although Heritage Defense had no involvement in Ms. Gonzales’ case, we would like to state for the record that the attorneys at Heritage Defense do not advise our member families to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.)
This case is a symptom of a very real problem, not just in Texas, but in states across the country. While biblical discipline may remain technically legal according to our statutes, Christian families are being effectively criminalized by many social workers, prosecutors, and judges while our legislatures fail to hold them accountable. The right of parents to biblically discipline their children is fast eroding.
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