LA Cnty. DCFS v. Jessica G.Annotate this Case
Mother appealed the juvenile court's findings against her as not supported by substantial evidence. Mother used her hand or a sandal to spank her two children on the buttocks on those “rare” occasions when lesser disciplinary measures proved ineffective, but never hard enough to leave bruises or marks. At issue was whether a juvenile court may conclude mother has inflicted “serious physical harm” within the meaning of Welfare and Institutions Code section 3001 without first examining whether her conduct falls outside the right of parents, which exists elsewhere in California civil and criminal law, to discipline their children as long as the discipline is genuinely disciplinary, is warranted by the circumstances, and is reasonable (rather than excessive) in severity. The court concluded that the juvenile court may not. Because the juvenile court’s ruling relied on its categorical view that “hitting children with shoes” is “physical abuse” and “not a proper form of discipline,” the court vacated the juvenile court’s jurisdictional finding as to mother and remanded so that the juvenile court may in the first instance apply the reasonable parental discipline doctrine.