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City prosecutor urges limits on parental discipline of children

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It would be more difficult to use parental discipline as a defense in a criminal case alleging child abuse under a bill being pushed by Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

The bill, which advanced out of the state Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, would make it clear that under no circumstances is a parent or guardian allowed to throw, kick, burn, bite, cut, strike with a closed first any minor regardless of age and size if it is likely to cause bodily harm. Shaking of a child under 3 would not be allowed, nor would striking of a child less than 18 months old.

Kaneshiro testified the bill is necessary to place "more reasonable limits" on using parental discipline as a legal defense. Existing law allows for parental discipline to be used as a defense so long as a parent or guardian was seeking to deter or punish a minor’s conduct and did not intend to cause substantial bodily injury, and takes into account a minor’s age and size.

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