reasonable suspicion that the child’s health, welfare, or safety would
be at issue, the parents have a right to discipline their child, which
overrides any child’s right in this situation.157 The parents have the
right to discipline their child—as long as it does not rise to level of
physical or mental abuse—because this brings about a greater benefit
to society and also outweighs any rights the child may have, if any, to
being punished as the parents see fit. “Thus for the parent who
respects the spirit of the basic rights of the child, and who is willing
to infringe them only when necessary and only to the degree
necessary, the rights of the child will generally not interfere with the
effective nurturing of the child.”158 This illustration demonstrates the
difference between a parent spanking the child in a disciplinary way
versus just walking up and slapping the child upside the head because
the parent is angry. “[T]he fact that parents do have rights [suggests]
that so long as the child is not being harmed, parental rights are
generally not to be infringed merely to provide some marginal benefit
for the child.”159 “Discipline literally means training that is expected
to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior”160
The right of parents to raise their child as they see fit becomes
more complicated when the court is dealing with separated parents
who choose to raise their child differently, such as in the case of
intervention in child abuse cases. However, a judge who handles divorce and
paternity cases is more likely to intervene based upon his or her valued belief.
157 G.C. v. R.S., 71 So. 3d 164, 166 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011) (reversing a finding
of domestic violence when the father used corporal punishment in non-excessive
manner and recognizing “a parent’s right to administer reasonable and non-excessive corporal punishment to discipline their children”); see also Hamilton ex
rel. Lethem v. Lethem, 270 P.3d 1024, 1031 (Haw. 2012) (reversing a lower court
decision and stating that “parents have a fundamental right to discipline their child
under the United States and Hawaii Constitutions that includes a right to employ
corporal punishment”); cf. Griffith v. Latiolais, 70 So. 3d 71, 79-80 (La. Ct. App.
2011) (granting joint custody and an order prohibiting corporal punishment by
158 Brennan & Noggle, supra note 3, at 17.
159 Id. at 9.
160 William Carmichael, SEVEN HABITS OF A HEALTHY HOME: PREPARING THE
GROUND IN WHICH YOUR CHILDREN CAN GROW 92 (Lynn Vanderzalm ed., 1997).
“[G]ood discipline is applied as an external boundary. The goal is to keep external
boundaries in place until children develop their own external boundaries.” Id. at 95.