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Father’s Name Removed From Child Abuse Registry

father's rights lawyerAn appeals court has ordered that the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Mistreatment remove the name of an aspiring pediatrician. He had been reported for hitting his two year old son on his butt on one occasion. In its decision to remove the father’s name from the child abuse registry, the appeals court stated there was no evidence the incident impaired the child’s physical, mental or emotional condition.

The Facts of the Case

Maurizio was giving his son a bath in July of 2012. His son started to eat soap. He slapped him one time on the butt to discipline him and convince him that eating soap was not something he should be doing. The next day the father noticed his child’s butt was bruised. He told the son’s daycare provider about the incident. The daycare provider reported him to Child Protective Services. Child care providers are one of the many professionals who are mandated under New York State Law to report suspected cases of child abuse and/or child neglect.

An investigation was undertaken by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services. The Social Service worker determined the incident should be considered “indicated” for child abuse, inadequate guardianship and excessive corporal punishment.

Father Requests Child Abuse Report To Be Marked “Unfounded”

The father requested the report be changed from indicated to unfounded. A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge. The Administrative Law Judge found the father’s inappropriate behavior was supported by a “preponderance of the evidence” and that the “indicated report should be disclosed to all inquiring agencies.”

At the time of the hearing, the father testified he spanked the boy one time, his son cried briefly, and the family thereafter resumed to its normal activities. His son did not complain of pain. There was no negative impact on the boy as a result of the incident. The impression left by the slap on the child’s butt was exacerbated by the boy’s sensitivity due to the hot bath water the boy was in at the time. The father was remorseful and cooperative with the Department of Social Services. He took an anger management program and he had a positive attitude about changing his ways concerning corporal punishment.

His wife, the child’s mother, testified the husband had not on any other occasion meted out excessive corporal punishment to their other two children and their usual manner of disciplining their children was giving them a “time out”.

The Appellate Division (an appeals court) in its decision stated a parent could “use reasonable physical force to promote discipline”. The court reversed the lower court’s decision and changed the fact that he was “indicated” for child abuse to “unfounded”.

Conclusion

Parents live in the real world with their children. Sometimes children need to be strongly reprimanded to put them on the right path, prevent them from being injured, and to drive home points which don’t seem to stick any other way. Child abuse agencies tend to be overly zealous and look at each and every indication of any physical contact between a parent and his child involving discipline to be inappropriate. The pendulum on this issue in many situations has swung too far. The decision of this court was appropriate in setting aside an incorrect ruling concerning this father.father's rights advocate

About Elliot S. Schlissel

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has spent more that 30 years representing individuals in matrimonial and family law cases.