Spanking Enough For DCF To Deny Aspiring Foster Parents, SJC Rules


The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that the state child welfare agency acted legally when it denied a couple’s application to become foster parents because they spanked their children.

Gregory and Melanie Magazu of Fitchburg said they use corporal punishment on their biological children in accordance with their Christian faith, but would not spank any foster children.

A lawyer for the state said many foster children are traumatized, and seeing another child spanked could further traumatize them.

More information is here, too:

And the court’s decision is here:


Then,when the social workers are trying desperately to find a home for the children who need a place to stay, they will be complaining there aren’t enough foster homes. The losers here are the innocent children that need loving adults who would invest time, energy, and love in them.


I think the state’s lawyer was correct in noting that many children in foster care have already witnessed and experienced much trauma. While some parents may not see spanking in this light, no doubt many children would see it as an act of violence being perpetrated upon other kids. The idea of foster care isn’t to increase the trauma already experienced by children.


Not surprising in today’s warped and confused culture.



St John Chrysostum (& Other Saints) on Whether Catholic Parents Should Spank


As a social worker I totally get this.

Spanking, per se, does not mean that parents are not doing a good job with their kids. Their are many loving parents that do choose to spank lightly (never with a foreign object and never on the face).

On the other hand we in the helping professions have come to understand through practice and empirical research that spanking is not in the best interest of the child. There are more effective means of discipline. Adoption agencies cannot and should not knowingly place a child in a home where parents use a method of punishment that all conventional wisdom contra-indicates.


Excellent points on trauma. I totally neglected to consider that. For children with a history of abuse spanking would be especially problematic.


The couple is claiming that they are being discriminated because they are Christians. Being Christian some how translates to having to spank.

I don’t like spanking, personally. I try to limit it in my home, Of course I’m human, it’s happened rarely. Those weren’t my best moments.

I’m not opposed to parents using spanking in their arsenal as a parenting tool.

BUT, this couple I think are not using the correct argument. I don’t think that for one Christians need to spank. I’m Catholic, I don’t think it’s necessary. I think if they want to care for other people’s children, sensitivity to their past background must be a consideration.

I think being a Christian would mandate that.


St. John Bosco worked with boys that today might be similar to the children in foster care.


Of all the things that suggest we have a warped culture, this is not one of them. Whether spanking is or is not appropriate is something that reasonable people can disagree on. There is no morally superior choice here.


Thank you for posting this. I have a child on the way and I will be a parent for the first time. The saints give the best advice!


It’s going to take more than a “few studies” for me to seriously consider that. A lot of “studies” fly in the face of natural law and Catholic teaching and may be quite unscientific.


I tend to agree, I think it depends on how effective it is in any given situation.

People should not spank kids to take out frustration, nor should those against spanking try to market themselves as always having some of kind of more enlightened view. :rolleyes:


I understand this. We are talking about foster care, which by its nature is not permanent. While I am a firm believer in spanking, there are exceptions to where it is useful. I would rather that social workers be flexible enough to adjust the rule based on age and prior history of the child. Not all children have seen a lot of violence, as was mentioned earlier. As long as the foster parents have the option of bailing if state-sanctioned punishment is ineffective, then the DCF is not asking too much.

Still, departments that restrict foster parenting too much cannot complain over lack of foster parents.


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