Del. House to vote on broadening child abuse laws

    A bill aimed at strengthening prosecution of child abuse cases in Delaware is headed for a House vote despite concerns that it may affect parents’ ability to discipline their children.

    A House committee voted unanimously Tuesday to release the bill, which cleared the Senate last week.

    The bill broadens existing laws against child abuse with new language. It creates the new crimes of third-degree child abuse, a misdemeanor, and second-degree child abuse, a felony.

    Second-degree abuse includes intentionally causing physical injury to a child 3 years old or younger. Because the bill defines physical injury as intentionally causing pain, some critics fear parents could be prosecuted for spanking their young children.

    But bill sponsors contend that parents still would be able to use appropriate physical discipline with their children.

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