Answer: yes, it is illegal to hit a girl, except for in very specific circumstances.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Is It Illegal To Hit a Girl? (Discussion)
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Introduction To Assault/Harassment
There are multiple levels of seriousness when it comes to one person ‘hitting’ someone else.
‘Hitting’ is a vague term in the law, and could mean any number of things, including slapping, poking with a finger, punching, kicking, and head butting.
Instead of dividing up the crimes based upon the type of strike, the law tends to focus on the result of the ‘hitting.’
Each state has the freedom to name the offense as they wish, and each offense may vary (so keep this in mind).
But most states have a very low level crime for the least serious of ‘hitting.’
In some states, the offense is called ‘physical harassment.’
Physical harassment is a harmful or offensive touching that does not result in serious physical injury or pain.
For example, if someone got on your face, and poked you in the chest really hard, but no bruise or mark was left–this could be considered a physical harassment in some states.
If the ‘hitting’ left a bruise, cut the skin, or caused swelling, this amount of damage would likely elevate the offense to the next level of assault.
As the injuries resulting from the ‘hitting’ get more serious, the offenses that can be charged also get more serious.
Depending on the injury, people convicted of assault can serve jail time.
Assault and harassment may also be called “battery.”
It is also criminal to threaten to subject to someone to a harmful or offensive touching, though the circumstances are highly relevant to whether the statement rises to the level of criminal conduct (and don’t forget the First Amendment protections).
Hitting Other People (Girls or Not)
Hitting another person is a crime, unless the strike was unintended, and not careless or reckless (a person should have known that the behavior would produce the result).
If the injury is serious enough, even negligent conduct can be criminal.
Any harmful or offensive touching is criminal, and the amount of ‘criminal’ depends on the seriousness of the result (injury/pain).
Young people should know that the law doesn’t differentiate between a boy hitting a girl, a girl hitting a boy, a man hitting a woman, a woman hitting a man, a woman hitting a girl, and so on.
A woman can go to jail for hitting a man, just as a man can go to jail for hitting a woman.
It is really common for struggling couples to slap each other in the face on television or in movies, and this behavior sets a terrible example for young people.
The characters in the movies never get arrested for a slap in anger, but people out in the real world do every day.
(Just ask celebrity Michelle Branch, who allegedly learned that her husband had been unfaithful and slapped him, only to get arrested and charged with domestic violence).
While historically, fewer women than men were prosecuted for domestic violence, that trend is changing over time as awareness of violence against men has been increasing.
Is It Ever Acceptable To Hit a Girl?
There are a few circumstances where hitting a girl might be the right thing to do.
While hitting is unlawful, there are ‘defenses’ to the charge of assault if the offender was acting in defense of himself or someone else.
In most states, a person is allowed to respond with the amount or level of force threatened or committed against him, but is not allowed to go overboard with the amount of force.
Further, the individual wanting to defend himself with the force has to feel like the use of force is justified to protect himself from imminent bodily injury.
If two people squared off, and one person threw a first punch, it does not give the second person carte blanche to beat the heck out of the first person.
If the facts do not support the conclusion that the person defending himself fears imminent bodily injury or other requisite harm, the person responding with physical force to defend himself can also be charged with assault or other serious crimes.
When it comes to violence between men and women, men have to watch the line carefully, as they are often much larger and stronger than women and can cross the line to unacceptable force quickly.
Further, men face long-held stereotypes when it comes to violence against men by women (meaning that some do not believe that women can commit violence against men).
While striking a girl to defend one’s self or someone else can be a defense to an assault charges, a young man bears the risk that law enforcement will not believe that he was defending himself.
It is much better to avoid getting into situations where the defense of self might need to be utilized, or try very hard to defuse the situation before responding with force.
Corporal punishment is legal in the United States, meaning that parents are allowed to use a reasonable amount of physical discipline on their children.
The amount of physical discipline is not always defined by a bright line, meaning parents can find themselves on the wrong side of it quickly if a child shows up to school with a bruise or a mark.
There is naturally a lot of hitting, kicking, and wrestling in sports and martial arts.
So long as the behavior (hitting, kicking, etc) does not go beyond the bounds of the practice/competition, there is nothing about sparring that is criminal.
Prosecution For Assault
Young people should be extremely careful about the use of offensive physical touching (poking, slapping, grabbing, hitting).
Juveniles can be prosecuted as an adult depending on the circumstances.
Further, even if a person is charged as a juvenile, there can still be serious repercussions (loss of freedom, fines, obligations).
These consequences can follow a teenager around for years, and can make their “launch” into adulthood much more difficult.
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