Make the Call: Child Discipline or Abuse

Make the Call: Child Discipline or Abuse
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-04-15
Unit 1Slide Deck: Make the Call, Child Discipline or Abuse
Unit 2Transcript: Make the Call, Child Discipline or Abuse
Unit 3Workbook: Make the Call, Child Discipline or Abuse
Unit 4Recording: Make the Call, Child Discipline or Abuse

Determining between physical discipline and child abuse essentially boils down to a balancing test between the right of the parent/s to raise their children as they please and the state’s interest in the welfare of the child. Making that distinction isn’t easy though, as there are so many considerations for prosecutors to decide the outcomes of these cases.

Lindsay Gephardt is this webinar’s instructor. Lindsay is a Deputy County Attorney with Maricopa County Attorney’s Office assigned to the Family Violence Bureau. She’s been a prosecutor who’s practiced in different jurisdictions with a focus on family violence and sex crimes. She also trains prosecutors as an adjunct professor and mentors law students.

Specifics Lindsay discussed in this session include:

  • A debated child abuse case in 2014 that highlighted the blurred lines when it came to physical discipline and child abuse.
  • A look into the concept of child discipline that historically espoused and religiously justified physical punishment as means to make children into decent adults.
  • Establishing parental rights in the legal system providing parents with authority to discipline their children.
  • Modern legal developments that prescribed a balancing test between the right of the parents to raise their children as they see fit and the state’s interest in the children’s welfare through state laws.
  • The three-part legal framework when determining whether something is child abuse or discipline.
  • The prevalence of and trends in child physical discipline within the US.
  • Where the reports are coming from and the multi-disciplinary stakeholders in potential child abuse cases.
  • A rundown of the investigative process and the different sources of evidence to be gathered and areas to probe that enable the court to make an educated decision.
  • Factors to take into account when determining reasonableness that looks into the child’s age, condition, and needs; the injury; the disciplining action; the parents’ capacity and history of abuse or neglect; family dynamics; culture; and other existing risk factors.
  • The justice system’s goals in these cases, and its options and alternatives in terms of outcomes for the decision, the children, and the parents.
  • Case studies were presented to demonstrate the investigative process, the various factors considered in these cases, and the different outcomes based on the investigation and considerations.
  • The global movement to end child physical discipline and a glimpse into how Canada implemented it.
  • Research findings that exhibit physical discipline’s ineffectiveness, its adverse effects on behavior and health, how it perpetuates violence and abuse, and how it contributes to the breakdown of family/parent-child bond.

Questions from webinar attendees are on:

  • Writing a warrant to obtain school or DCS records.
  • Updated statistics on child physical discipline.
  • Maricopa County’s alternative/diversionary programs.
  • Intervention for parents/families that are from a culture that supports physical violence.
  • Investigating delayed reports of abuse or neglect.
  • Probing for emotional or sexual abuse in physical abuse cases.
  • Options for parents who are in a custody battle due to child abuse.
  • The balancing test between the parents’ rights and the state’s interest.


Other Webinars with this Speaker:


Audience Comments

  • “Thank you for a well-organized, highly informational, and well-presented training.” — Andrea
  • “Excellent Speaker – compassionate child advocate. Please do not hesitate to offer this training again. So much for so many to learn. Thank you!” — Roseann
  • “I really liked how you look at some factors that may have led to the parent feeling they needed to take the measures. Child’s diagnosis, relationship with disciplinary figure severity of the injury, location of the injury. These questions can have a huge impact on understanding the families believe in discipline.” — Betsy
  • “My level of knowledge prior to the webinar was quite limited, so it was very helpful to learn about case law relative to child abuse and to learn that the US differs from most of the rest of the world in its acceptance of corporal punishment. …” –Christine
  • “The importance of considering all the factors regarding the application of physical discipline and the intended outcome of applying said force. Overall the class was nicely put together and I appreciated the importance of only focusing on one aspect of the abuse spectrum.” — Shawna
  • “How perception of abuse has changed over time.” — DAPHNE
  • “I used to conduct investigations for DCS. Determining the line between discipline and abuse could be a challenge. Very enlightening information. Thank you.” — Deneen
  • “I appreciate the suggested line of communication or questioning parents to determine their understanding of the child’s comprehension as to why they are receiving corporal punishment. Also, I appreciate the chart regarding normal accidents and what may be suspicious injuries for child abuse.” — Lelzie
  • “I liked that the presenter was able to layout a better understanding between the difference of child abuse and simply disciplining a child. And how it relates to the legal system.” — Mackenzie
  • “I liked the case studies. At first, the raw information didn’t make as much sense as it did in the case studies.”  — Megan


Additional Resources
1 year ago
After the Webinar: Make the Call – Child Discipline or Child Abuse? Q&A with Lindsay Gephardt
Webinar presenter Lindsay Gephardt answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Make […]
1 year ago
The Prosecution of Child Neglect Cases
Crimes are either by commission or omission. When it comes to cruelty to children, one can either co […]
1 year ago
Medical Aspects of Child Neglect
Neglect happens behind closed doors. The moment other people realize the level of neglect a parent o […]
2 years ago
Evidence Based Prosecutions: Building Your Case One Puzzle Piece at a Time
One of the best parts of working in the criminal justice system is the sense of fulfillment that an […]
4 years ago
Children as Witnesses in Domestic Violence Cases: Law Enforcement Considerations (Part 1)
Domestic Violence can be a problematic case. The community might not want to meddle with such cases […]