Is this child abuse?

hawkman - this is a delicate situation. Shoving a child into a wall, pulling their hair and slapping more than once I would consider to be abuse, or at least domestic violence. I started to post the statutes on here but they are too lengthy. Go to the home page, under Domestic Violence and laws. After reading this, I now understand what a 50-B is and this may help you.
While I firmly believe that children should not rule the house, there is a point where it becomes more than discipline. I remember having my mouth popped one time growing up and I deserved it. My husband has popped his youngest son’s mouth. Now keep in mind, that this did not make his mouth bleed but it’s enough to get their attention and make them understand that they need to watch what they say and be respectful. Slapping them across the face more than once is too much in my opinion. I hope you have recorded conversations? Your X admitting to slapping your daughter could have an affect. You could try contacting D.S.S. again so that at least you have record of reporting it. If there is still nothing done then you can take the recorded call from your daughter, admission from your ex and file a 50-B.
And in NC, you can also be charged with, not just neglect but accessory after the fact if the abuse is violent enough and you did nothing after you found out about it, which is the same to the courts as if you did it yourself.

Unfortunately, the call was not recorded. I’m aware that kids get out of control sometimes and sometimes parents lose control of their temper too. Being slapped in the face never sat well with me as I always found it to be more of a degrading jesture than a diciplinary action. If she had swatted her on the butt, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. My daughter told me that during this melee, that her mother made the comment to her that she “didn’t make contact that time”. This would leave me to believe that this didn’t fall under mom just losing her temper. Another concern is the fact my daughter has a genetic disorder which effects all her connective tissues. Depending on the amount of force used, she coud have been seriously injured. The last time I contacted DSS, they sat the kids down in front of their mother and asked them to basically tell on her while she looked on. I don’t have a degree in psychology, but I think anyone would assume that any kid wouldn’t say anything in that situation.

I agree that being slapped in the face is a degrading gesture but sometimes, especially with teenagers, that is necessary and more affective than discipline. Teenagers rebel against discipline so an attitude adjustment is sometimes necessary. I don’t mean that you should punch them, knock them out and even using the term “slapping” is a little harsh but what my mother called “Mashing my mouth” or tapping them on the lips so that they are aware that what they are saying to me isn’t considered slapping and worked for me. I never backtalked my mother again after that. As I said, she only had to do that one time.
Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT agree with parents losing their temper when they discipline either. If you feel out of control and that angry, take some time to calm down before you approach your child/teenager about what they have done that needs correcting. If your child is out of control then you need to work on that now because teenage years are only going to make things worse.

If your X made the comment about not making contact then that tells me that she was intent on harming your daughter. Sometimes you can get the same result just taking a swipe at their butt, even if you don’t actually hit it…If she shoved her into the wall and pulled her hair, then she is actually “fighting” with her not just attempting to punish or discipline.
I understand that when they get older, you can’t “turn them over your knee” and grounding doesn’t do anything but make them madder at you, there has to be other means of getting across that they need to respect you as a parent.
If you contact DSS again, let them know that the last time you reported this the interview with the children was done in front of their mother and you would like to request that they go to the school or speak with the children alone.

I talked with her school this morning. They told me they would call her in and talk with her today. I asked that they call me back and let me know if everything was o.k., but school is out now, and I haven’t heard a word from them. Since her mother grounded her, I can’t even call her to check on her. Not being the non-custodial parent, the school couldn’t tell me if she went to school today, but I understand why they can’t release that information. I figured if nothing else, and if she still had marks on her, then there would be a witness that would see them there at the school, and I can at least say I reported it.

After nearly 2 days of calling my daughter’s school, the school counselor finally called me today at about 4 p.m. He stated that he did talk with my daughter, but not until today, and he could not discuss it with me due to my daughter’s privacy rights. They could not answer if she was present at school yesterday, or if she was, if anyone had noticed any indication of her being slapped. He said she had no “obvious marks” on her today.

Do you not share legal custody or does she have primary legal and physical?

Hawkman -
What the counselor said to you is completely untrue. The rules governing a school are different than the rules governing a marriage & family therapist or any outside social worker/counselor/psychiatrist. Granted, that counselor may work in a second capacity outside the school district in private counseling (I have a counseling background and used to work with two counselors who held separate counseling jobs in this manner) but when the counselor is working at/for the school, she falls under the guidelines of the school, not under the guidelines of the APA.
Follow these steps, from
(We have had to do the same thing, to the extent of our lawyer getting a subpoena for the school because the Mom never listed Dad on the school records and thus the school was playing the “gee, you could be a crazy stalker and not even biologically related…” game.)

"Having trouble geting access to your child’s report cards or other information?

  1. Call your child’s school and request the child’s school records. These include report cards, attendance records, visits to the school nurse, etc.) Don’t waste your time with the individual teachers, speak directly to the Principal or Head Administrator.

  2. If they refuse, tell them that they will be answering to a charge of violating Federal law if they don’t immediately make the records available to you.

The Federal Law that that they’re in violation of is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

Quote this passage to them, then follow up by FAXing it in:

Section 99.4: Sec. 99.4 What are the rights of parents? “An educational agency or institution shall give full rights under the Act to either parent unless the agency or institution has been provided with evidence that there is a court order, state Statute, or legally binding document relating to such matters as divorce, separation, or custody, that specifically revokes these rights.” (Emphasis added)
The meaning and intent of this Statute is pretty clear. Note the words “either” and “specifically”. Unless your Divorce Decree specifically excludes you from access to your child’s school records, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ACCESS THEM. The provisions in FERPA apply to ALL schools that receive Federal funding of any kind.

Note that ‘school records’ include:
report cards
enrollment forms
achievement tests
progress reports
field trip forms
incident reports
disciplinary reports
medical records
emergency notification cards
any other officially generated reports, including email
It is important to note that counselor and psychologist records are considered part of an educational record. Thus, they are not exempt from FERPA

WOW! That is wonderful information to have. Thank you for posting this.

Thanks for the reminder. I had forgotten just how much valuable info is available at That will be my next course of action.

I finally got to talk to my daughter about what happened between her and her mother. Just mentioning it on the phone made her start crying all over again. She told me that she would not discuss it with her school councelor as she didn’t trust him and figured he’d run and tell her mom what she said. When I asked her why she thought he’d tell on her, she said that’s what children’s services did when they came to talk to her.[8][:(!][V]

Have you considered family therapy? I went to college for psych, although I didn’t finish… and used to work in a counseling firm there in NC. If you have joint custody, then start going to family therapy when your daughter is with you. That way, you have documentation (stronger than just her words and your feelings) of what is going on. Also, maybe she’ll feel more comfortable discussing it with someone you provide, since she seems to have lost trust in her mother.

***I specify “FAMILY” therapy and not “INDIVIDUAL” therapy because of this little trick: If you put your daughter in individual therapy, you lose your privelege to access what is discussed in her sessions. Despite the fact that you’re the father and you’re footing the bill, most counselors/social workers will still consider it private doctor-patient info and will not disclose anything to the parents unless there’s danger to the child or someone around them (threatening to harm self or others). I don’t agree with this, especially for kids under 16, but whatever… If you go for FAMILY therapy, then you will still have access to the information and know what is going on with your daughter. The counselor may still have a few individual sessions with the daughter, and a few with you, but overall it will be billed as family therapy and therefore you won’t be barred from your daughter’s information.

Good luck.

I am a 60% of my income-support paying, non-custodial parent, so I have absolutely NO rights under N.C. or any other states laws. When I do try to push the issue that do have rights as my children’s father, the door is more often than not, slammed in my face. My children are nothing more than a meal ticket to my ex and their true well being is not a concern to her as she knows if I were to get custody, she’d have a cut in her “dadfare” payments.
The children did go to counciling one time before, but the ex took them out after she (the ex) lost all composure and threw a fit in front of the psychologist. He told me he later made several attempts for her to get the kids back to visit him, even for free, but she refused.

Well, there’s nothing she can say about you taking the kids to see a psych on YOUR time with them. Don’t ask her to take them - do it yourself during your visitation periods. That sounds like my husband’s ex, as well. Once she was diagnosed as manic depressive/bipolar/possible sexual addiction, she refused to ever go back to counseling. The only time she took the meds they prescribed was when she attempted suicide and ate them all at once. There’s a truckload of irony for ya… She claimed the psych told her that to address her depression she “just needed to watch a lot of happy movies”… and she didn’t like to go to counseling because it just made her more depressed (well yea, being told to take responsibility for your actions can have that effect if you’re not ready to hear it.)

Anyway, take them to counseling while you have them. She can throw fits all day long, but there’s not much she can do about it. And I bet the kids weren’t too honest with the last counselor, anyway, since they have trust issues with Mom and the counselor was from Mom’s initiative.

Dear hawkman:

Greetings. You may be able to file a domestic violence restraining order on behalf of your child and/or a motion to show cause and/or a motion to modify custody. Good luck.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

301 McCullough Drive Suite 510
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax

1829 East Franklin Street, Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.321.0780 main phone
919.787.6668 main fax


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

My thirteen year old daughhter called me today and stated tat her mother (who has custody ) slapped her in the face at least 4 times and then shoved her into a wall by pulling her hair. This occurred after finding out her and my son had gotten into a scuffle over a petty incident. Her mother admitted to me over the phone that she “…had to slap her face at least three times” because my daughter has “…gotten such a smart mouth on her”.
I know N.C. Childrens Services is totally useless ( the last time there was an incident they interviewed the kids in front of their mom), but I feel like this goes beyond discipline of a child. I will be calling their school tomorrow to have the school councilor talk to my daughter, but would like if there are any other suggestions or what I legally should do. In N.C., I know the parent can be charged with neglect if they do not report abuse, but Children’s Services seem to ignore things like this.