Can You Be Charged With Child Abuse in Wisconsin If You Spank Your Child?
By Tedia Gamino
For quite some time there’s been a significant debate across the country about whether or not spanking a child is abuse. Some parents say spanking is abuse, while others believe in physical discipline and subscribe to the adage: “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Wisconsin laws against child abuse are enacted to keep kids safe from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. These laws identify factors that constitute abuse.
Reckless Bodily Harm vs. Intentional Bodily Harm
Wisconsin law defines physical abuse as reckless bodily harm or intentional bodily harm to a child. In many cases it can be hard to prove whether or not abuse was reckless or intentional. Let’s look at the differences between the two.
- Reckless Bodily Harm
Reckless abuse means that your actions resulted in an unreasonable risk of harm to a child, and that you demonstrated a knowing disregard for the child’s safety.
- Intentional Bodily Harm
Intentional abuse means you intentionally or knowingly engaged in activities that would cause bodily harm to a child.
Discipline Laws in Wisconsin
Wisconsin law recognizes the legal right of a parent or guardian to physically discipline a child. Although, according to a strict definition of the law, spanking is an intentional act that inflicts “bodily harm,” the law permits a parent or guardian to engage in physical discipline, provided it doesn’t lead to an unreasonable risk of death, or great bodily harm to the child.
Penalties If You’re Convicted of Child Abuse in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, child abuse and failing to prevent child abuse are prosecuted as felonies. If you’re convicted of child abuse, you may spend several years in prison. You could also have your parental rights terminated, or be subject to the continual oversight of Child Protective Services.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Abuse Charges?
If you’ve been charged with child abuse, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need.
By Attorney Tedia Gamino