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Spanking Enough For DCF To Deny Aspiring Foster Parents, SJC Rules

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that the state child welfare agency acted legally when it denied a couple's application to become foster parents because they spanked their children.

Read: The Decision (.pdf)

Gregory and Melanie Magazu of Fitchburg said they use corporal punishment on their biological children in accordance with their Christian faith, but would not spank any foster children.

A lawyer for the state said many foster children are traumatized, and seeing another child spanked could further traumatize them.

"There are so many unknowns as to what that child has experienced that it's not appropriate in a home in which you're putting a foster child," assistant Attorney General Annapurna Balakrishna told the court in September.

The Magazus said the Department of Children and Families's decision was "arbitrary and capricious," and infringes on their constitutional religious rights.

The Supreme Judicial Court's decision Monday said the Magazus' rights are outweighed by the department's interest in protecting foster children.

Neither the Magazus' lawyer nor the DCF immediately responded to phone messages.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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