State lawmakers in Delaware have passed a new anti-child abuse law.
It makes assault against children a stand-alone crime, but now critics are saying parents could be prosecuted for simply spanking their children.
Critics say the issue with the law is its wording.
The act of child abuse, according to Delware state code, ranges from sex abuse to neglect but now, recklessly or intentionally causing a child to feel "pain" is also considered abuse.
According to Senate Bill No.234 which was passed in mid-September, child abuse is now broken down into three separate categories.
Child abuse in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.
Meanwhile child abuse in the first and second degree are now considered felonies and in those cases, a person must be found guilty of causing “physical injury” to a child.
The law defines physical injury as “any impairment of physical condition or pain."
It's that definition that has critics saying government may be encroaching on parents' rights when it comes to spanking their children.
Mother RoseMarie Tarry told WFMZ, “ I think that that law is outrageous because then that allows kids to have one up on the parent.”
Sarah Caine, a mother who does not support spanking said, “ I think it's a very fine line. On one hand the government trying to dictate what you can and cannot do to discipline your children is wrong and on the other hand if it's spanking that's veering towards abuse then it is something that should be illegal.”
Proponents of the law say the new measures will help prosecutors in cases involving disabled children and infants, and argue it will not interfere with parenting.