Child Protective Services (CPS)
Under the Texas Family Code, parents must protect their children. At the same time, parents have the right to discipline their children reasonably. In this article, learn about the law and physical child discipline.
The other parent uses physical discipline on our child. What can I do?
Physical discipline of a child is legal in Texas and does not necessarily constitute child abuse.
It is not unusual for parents to disagree on how to discipline a child. One parent cannot control how the other parent disciplines the child as long as it is appropriate and not abusive.
If a child is showing signs of lasting marks, bruises, burns, broken bones, or other physical injuries, this is likely abusive.
When do you report physical discipline to CPS?
Where physical discipline is excessive or abusive, a report can be made to Statewide Intake/CPS, and they will decide whether to investigate.
Taking photographs of any visible injuries shows how the child looked at the time they returned to the home. Photographs could help if the marks are no longer present when the investigator later sees the child. The photographs could be used as evidence in court. Once an investigation is completed, a finding will be made about whether the discipline was abusive or not.
The other parent is allowing another adult to physically discipline my child; is this allowed?
A parent may permit another person (or a school) to discipline their child. This can include spanking.
Under Texas Family Code 151.001(e), only the following persons may use corporal punishment for the reasonable discipline of a child:
(1) a parent or grandparent of the child;
(2) a stepparent of the child who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child; and
(3) an individual who is a guardian of the child and who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child.
But the same rules apply to parents and non-parents: physical discipline cannot be excessive or abusive. If a child is showing signs of lasting marks, bruises, burns, broken bones, or other physical injuries, this is likely abusive and can be reported to Statewide Intake/CPS.
What are some alternatives to physical discipline?
In Texas, all parents have a duty to control their child while the child is in their possession, but there are many effective ways to do this that don’t involve physical discipline. Parents can find numerous parenting classes and other free resources online to learn more about how to deal with the challenges of parenting.
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