08/22/2012 02:59 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2012

Spanking Children: Should Certain Forms Of Discipline Be Illegal?

This article comes to us courtesy of SF Weekly's The Snitch.

By Erin Sherbert

Earlier this summer we informed readers that, contrary to its reputation for being overly sensitive in that ACLU-kind-of-way, San Francisco doesn't care if you spank your kid.

And guess what? Two months later, people here still don't care.

A San Francisco jury acquitted another father of charges that he abused his 11-year-old daughter when he hit her with a belt as punishment for being a serial thief. The jury deliberated for two hours before it concluded that Chaya Chhoeurm, 30, exercised reasonable discipline after the girl was caught repeatedly stealing from her teacher.

Chhoeurm, a carpenter with sole custody of his three kids, admitted to the jury that he spanked his daughter with a belt, but only because he was desperate to teach her a lesson about stealing. He claimed he never meant to injure his daughter, who was left with bruises on her right side.

On April 12, the girl went to school and told a school counselor about the spanking. The school official called police who cited Chhoeurm on April 20.

However, during the two-day trial, the girl's principal took the stand, describing Chhoeurm as an "attentive and involved parent" who cares about his daughter's education.

"As a teenager, Mr. Chhoeurm had been in and out of juvenile hall before finally turning his life around," Deputy Public Defender Scott Grant said. "He testified that he was terrified his daughter was going down the same path and would be expelled from school and end up in jail."

State law allows for parents to discipline kids as long as it doesn't seriously injure them, physically or mentally. In this case, the jury believed Chhoeurm was trying to be a good dad.

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