- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A California appeals court on Tuesday said a mother who was brought up on child abuse charges for spanking her 12-year-old daughter with a wooden spoon acted within her parental rights, and that social services had overstepped bounds.

The 6th District Court of Appeals in San Jose did admit the spanking was close to constituting abuse, but not quite, The Associated Press reported. Social workers, meanwhile, argued that Vernica Gonzalez was wrong in using the spoon on her child, and reported her to state authorities — who then found her guilty of “substantiated” abuse. A trial judge upheld that finding. But Ms. Gonzalez appealed.

In court, she testified that she had tried other forms of discipline to control her daughter, but to no avail. Growing frustration over her daughter’s flirtation with gang membership and failure to do school work ultimately led her to spank her with the spoon — but she never intended to inflict harm, she said, AP reported. Moreover, others testified that the woman rarely spanked her girl as punishment.

Justice Conrad Rushing wrote: “Nothing in the record suggest the mother should have known she was inflicting bruises. The spanking was entirely the product of a genuine and deliberate disciplinary purpose, i.e., to arrest troubling behavior patterns exhibited by the daughter.”

The court ordered the dismissal of the child abuse charge.

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