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Possible Foster Parents Turned Away for Beliefs on Spanking

The Short of It

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has rejected a Boston couple's application to foster or become pre-adoptive parents because they admitted they use corporal punishment with their biological children. The couple's appeal will be heard next month.

The Lowdown

Gregory and Melanie Magazu of Boston applied to foster and possibly become pre-adoptive parents in 2012. The couple was denied the opportunity to become foster parents based on their use of spanking as a punishment with their biological children. The couple's case went through levels of appeal in 2013 and 2014, and the latest appeal will be heard by the Supreme Judicial Court on Sept. 10.

The Magazus' attorney says foster parents using corporal punishment with their biological children is not against the law in Massachusetts. The couple agreed not to spank any foster children, but said they wouldn't stop using it on their own children or on any child they adopted.

On the other side of the debate, the Department of Children and Families says many of the children in foster care come from traumatic backgrounds that may have included physical violence, so it could be detrimental if they're fostered in a home where spanking is allowed.

"Being aware of physical punishment in their pre-adoptive home could well trigger the very trauma the placement was intended to mitigate," Worcester Superior Court Judge Brian Davis explained in his 2013 decision.

The Magazus say they're following the Bible's teachings by disciplining their biological children and cite Proverbs 13:24 as their guide: "Whoever spared the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him."

The Upshot

I think the person who is really getting punished in this situation is the potential foster child who is being denied the chance to live in a home with foster parents who want to help him or her succeed.

"DCF is in desperate need of strong families to care for the foster children of Massachusetts. To deny a family who agrees to care for DCF kids by DCF's guidelines because that family will not alter how they properly parent their own children is going too far," Gregory Magazu said.

Do you think foster children should be allowed in the homes of families who spank their biological children?

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