Robert Fathman comments on Ohio's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' approval of child-biting as punishment

May 23, 2002

Two out of three justices on Ohio's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that leaving bite marks on the face of a 9 year old child does not constitute child abuse, and instead such action falls within Ohio's definition of "reasonable" corporal punishment! Overturning a lower court ruling that found this injury abusive, the 9th Circuit absolved a stepfather of doing anything wrong when he deliberately bit the boy "to teach him not to bite" his younger brother.

This is a shocking step backwards for society, support for barbarism, from judges who must have attended the John Wayne Gacy seminar on child development. The Children's Service Board should immediately appeal this ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court. If a prison guard did this to an inmate, he could be immediately fired, charged with assault and subjected to a lawsuit. We don't treat animals, the mentally retarded, military recruits or spouses with this lack of protection for individual safety. It is a clear example of problems caused by laws that allow "reasonable" corporal punishment, with no definition or limits set on what constitutes "reasonable."

In ten countries in Europe, and in Israel, it is now illegal for parents to use any form of corporal punishment. In Scotland the government has just announced plans to make it illegal to use any form of corporal punishment on children under the age of 3, or to use an object [belt, spoon, paddle] is inflicting corporal punishment on older children. It will also be unlawful to hit a child "about the head" or to shake a child violently. Several other countries are considering outright bans or Scottish-type restrictions. The Ohio judicial system, and the Ohio legislature, should take notice.

Robert Fathman, Ph.D., Co-Chair
EPOCH-USA End Physical Punishment of Children
Tel.: 614-766-6688

See (Ohio) Bite not abuse, appeals court rules -- Child's punishment only inappropriate, court says. Carr dissents, By Phil Trexler, Beacon Journal, May 23, 2002

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