Family Law

Minn. Supreme Court Rules for Parents in Paddling Case

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled for a couple who spanked their 12-year-old boy with a paddle, refusing to establish a bright-line rule that the infliction of pain constitutes physical injury or abuse.

The court said there wasn’t enough information to determine whether the boy had been physically or mentally harmed, report the Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. As a result, the court said, the parents should no longer be under county supervision.

The boy, Gerard, weighed 195 pounds when his father spanked him 36 times with a paddle for leaving the house and then lying about where he had been.

The parents, Shawn and Natalie Fraser of Bloomington, Minn., decided to try spanking when grounding didn’t stop their son from stealing money and disappearing for hours. County officials removed the boy and his 11-year-old brother from the home for six months after Gerard told police he had been paddled. The parents remained under county supervision during the appeals.

The court refused to return the case to the district court for further proceedings since the boys had been living at home without incident for three years since the paddling took place. Further court action “seems a needless use of judicial resources,” the court said (PDF).

The court said the legislature did not intend to ban all forms of corporal punishment and reasonable discipline is allowed.

Natalie Fraser told the Star Tribune she and her husband are “elated” by the ruling. The boy, who is now 15, said he was also happy.

“They didn’t, like, abuse us or anything,” Gerard Fraser told the Star Tribune. “I was a really bad kid.”

A hat tip to How Appealing, which posted the stories.

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