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After CA assemblymember gets in trouble for spanking daughter, we discuss the legalities and psychology of spanking

A mother and her children.
A mother and her children.
/Terry Vine/Getty Images

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On Sunday, Democratic assemblyman Joaquin Arambula was arrested on a misdemeanor child abuse charge for spanking his 7-year-old daughter in order to discipline her.

His daughter told a teacher, who reported it to the school. Arambula has said that spanking is a disciplinary tool that he uses as a last resort. If he is convicted, he could be looking at up to six months in jail.

The incident has made us wonder about the psychological ramifications, as well as the legalities of spanking. What does the academic literature say about the psychological ramifications and disciplinary effectiveness of spanking? What is the legal line between abuse and spanking in California? If you are a parent, how do you feel about spanking as a disciplinary measure?


Paul Wallin, senior partner at Wallin & Klarich LLC, headquartered in Tustin, California

Elizabeth Kim, assistant professor in social work at USC; her areas of expertise include delinquency, childhood adversity and consequences of trauma