Despite a mother's claim that hitting her daughter with a belt and a phone cord was not child abuse, an appellate court on Thursday upheld a judge's previous ruling disagreeing with her.

The state Child Protection and Permanency Division case stemmed from an incident in which an 8-year-old girl told classmates that her mother had hit her. A caseworker saw the girl at the school and reported bruising on the child's "stomach, legs, back, and buttocks."

According to the girl, her mother hit her because she had gotten a bad grade on a test. The mother confirmed she had hit the child for "bad behavior," and also said she had used corporal punishment in the past.

The court noted that the reason the mother used both the phone cord and the belt is that she believed the punishment "required more force" than the cord could provide.

The appellate decision does not name the mother in order to protect the identity of the child.

Following the report, it was agreed that Susan would be removed from her mother's house and live with her father instead. The mother also agreed to "a safety protection plan, parenting skills training, and a psychological evaluation."  A judge later determined that the child was not in danger with her mother and granter her "liberal visitation." The mother eventually gained custody again when the father moved out of town.

The mother was charged with fourth-degree child abuse and completed a pre-trial intervention program, which allowed her record to be expunged. After completing the program the woman appealed the finding of physical abuse while admitting to the "underlying facts of the case."

In its ruling the court determined that "excessive corporal punishment is child abuse." The court cited previous cases noting "a single incident of violence against a child may be sufficient to constitute excessive corporal punishment."

"Her actions constituted a failure to exercise a minimum degree of care," the court said.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or

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