Calif. court says spanking with wooden spoon not abuse

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A state appeals court has tossed out child abuse findings against a frustrated Northern California mother who spanked her 12-year-old daughter hard enough with a wooden spoon to cause bruising.

The 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose on Tuesday reversed the child abuse determination made by the Santa Clara County Department of Social Services. That determination was upheld by a trial court judge.

The appeals court said the spanking came close to abuse, but that social workers and the lower court judge failed to consider the family's entire circumstances. Vernica Gonzalez and her husband testified that other forms of punishment such as groundings had failed to persuade their 12-year-old daughter to do her schoolwork and avoid gang culture.

The appeals court said the mother didn't intend to inflict harm.

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