Journal Article

Religious Tradition and the Corporal Punishment of Children: A Comparison of the American and Israeli Legal Systems

Tamar Morag

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 25, issue 3, pages 338-364
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebr018
Religious Tradition and the Corporal Punishment of Children: A Comparison of the American and Israeli Legal Systems

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An examination of social, cultural, and legal factors affecting the legal arrangements relating to parental authority to mete out corporal punishment can provide insights into elements influencing child law in general. A juxtaposition of the Israeli and American legal systems points to a highly interesting finding. In the 1940s, the legal situation in Israel and the USA regarding parental authority to mete out corporal punishment was almost identical. By the end of the 20th century, however, the legal situation in the USA had remained almost unchanged, whereas in Israel, it had reversed itself almost entirely. My comparative analysis will attempt to trace the potential effect of one element in both systems: religious traditions. The main argument in this article is that ever since the beginning of the American polity, Protestant approaches to child education have significantly influenced the determination of the broad licence granted in American law to the use of corporal punishment. Moreover, these approaches continue to play a crucial role in the preservation of defences for corporal punishment in American law until the present. By contrast, specific hermeneutical trends in Jewish religion and the lack of full separation between religion and state in Israeli law have been among the factors that facilitated the move toward the full prohibition of corporal punishment in Israel.

Journal Article.  12221 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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