Many people have different opinions when it comes to how they want their children to be raised. A hot topic of conversation in Wyoming is whether or not it is legal to spank children.

Spanking is a broad term, so first, let's break down the term. By definition, to spank is to slap with one's open hand or a flat object, especially on the buttocks as a punishment. Spanking is corporal punishment, which is legal in the state of Wyoming.

Who can spank a child? Wyoming Statute 14-3-202 (i) states:

"A person responsible for a child's welfare" includes the child's parent, noncustodial parent, guardian, custodian, stepparent, foster parent or other person, institution or agency having the physical custody or control of the child.

That outlines who can legally reprimand a child. The Statute, in section (ii) goes in to specifics on abuse:

"Abuse" means inflicting or causing physical or mental injury, harm or imminent danger to the physical or mental health or welfare of a child other than by accidental means, including abandonment, unless the abandonment is a relinquishment substantially in accordance with W.S. 14-11-101 through 14-11-109, excessive or unreasonable corporal punishment, malnutrition or substantial risk thereof by reason of intentional or unintentional neglect, and the commission or allowing the commission of a sexual offense against a child as defined by law.

Section (B) outlines Physical Injury even further by stating:

"Physical injury" means any harm to a child including but not limited to disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ, skin bruising if greater in magnitude than minor bruising associated with reasonable corporal punishment, bleeding, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma or substantial malnutrition.

Although corporal punishment is legal, the wording in the statutes is very broad, which can be interpreted differently. By the statute alone (21-4-308), even teachers and other school officials technically can spank students, but FindLaw.com states that nationally-collected statistics show it’s exceedingly rare in Wyoming. 

Statute 6-2-503 details penalties for child abuse, which is a felony, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of twenty-five years.