As I’ve written before, corporal punishment is permitted in Virginia. However, the punishment employed by mom or dad must be “reasonable.”  

Mom punishes her child on the internet

In a recent viral video, apparently a parent found out that her daughter was having sex in the family home and posting it on the internet. As you see in the video, the parent uses corporal punishment. Now the debate ensues as to whether it was reasonable.

Whether or not you think this is reasonable, the uncertainty is the same uncertainty imposed by Virginia spanking laws. Exactly what level of force is permitted in corporal punishment is undefined. And, should a parent go too far, this is the exact type of analysis a Virginia Court would make in determining whether or not the parent is guilty of a crime.

What can be learned

I think a couple points to be made from this video:

  1. If you punish your child, “public shaming” should not be part of it. Kids make mistakes. And, when we were growing up, the Internet did not exist, so we don’t understand the truly devastating effects public shaming can cause.
  2. If you believe in corporal punishment, you need to be very careful. The “reasonable standard” is fluid and can change with the times. The spanking your parents used to give you may indeed be criminal under today’s standard.
  3. Make sure you have a clear goal when imposing any type of punishment. At least from my viewpoint, the mother in this video displayed a lot of anger, which probably clouded her judgment. I understand what she was trying to do. But I don’t see this video as demonstrating productive punishment.

One last point (Virginia Child Pornography Laws)

Also, another reminder I always send to youths. In this video, mom got upset because the daughter (who is under 18 years old) allegedly posted sexually explicit photos on the internet. Keep in mind, under Virginia law, creating and distributing sexually explicit photos can lead to very serious felony charges.

The Virginia General Assembly has not created an exception under Virginia's Child Pornography laws that account for kids under 18 who take photos/videos of themselves and share it with their signficant other (or their peers). You can and may very well be prosecuted if you get caught. While it’s arguable whether mom in this video used to much force in her punishment, she was absolutely justified in being upset whether her daughter’s decisions.


Let us know what you think. Did mom go too far here? If so, why? Of course, let us knwo if you have any questions.

James S. Abrenio
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Focusing on criminal, traffic defense and personal injury cases
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