Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

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This Article uses critical race theory to analyze the impact of corporal punishment and physical child abuse on African American children’s rights in the United States. From an international perspective, the banning of corporal punishment is consistent with multidisciplinary research about the negative effects of physical discipline on children. However, throughout United States history, African American parenting oftentimes utilizes physical discipline to teach children strict compliance with authority in order to prevent deadly violence from being inflicted upon them by white people. Using critical race theory concepts, this Article illustrates how state endorsement of corporal punishment within the family and structural racism within the family regulation system diminishes the parental rights of many African American parents, as well as the rights of African American children. Exploring the thin line between reasonable parental discipline and abuse, this Article concludes that a federal ban on corporal punishment is not enough to protect African American children from harm or maintain their family integrity. When state- sanctioned violence against African American children and adults by police and white citizens is still prevalent, the United States must also recognize and reconcile the legal system’s role in creating communities where African American bodies are often bound by violence and are yet to be freed.

Publication Title

American University Law Review

Document Type




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