Opinion

Lawmaker wants to give power back; spanking bill allows parents, teachers to leave marks

A Kansas lawmaker who says she wants to restore power to parents has introduced a bill to expand spanking at home and in the classroom.

But its opponents might end up with the upper hand.

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Photo: New York Daily News

Gail Finney, a Democrat (believe it or not), said the bill clarifies what physical punishment parents can use and what they can approve for others, including teachers and child care workers.

While Kansas law currently allows spanking, it is illegal to strike children hard enough to leave a mark, according to KCTV-2, the Fox affiliate in Kansas City.

Since most kids who get spanked probably would barely notice  a swat that wasn’t even hard enough to leave a red mark,  Finney’s bill would allow parents or their surrogate with written permission to use to up 10 strikes with their hand, hard enough to leave redness or bruising, KCTV reported.

The bill has the usual detractors with the usual objections (“spanking is outdated,” “it just teaches aggression,” etc. etc.), but one of its top supporters says it’s just a way to bring discipline back into schools while clarifying laws to protect children from abuse and parents and teachers from legal hazard.

“This bill basically defines a spanking along with necessary reasonable physical restraint that goes with discipline, all of which has always been legal,” said Britt Colle, deputy county attorney of  McPherson County, Kan.

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“This bill clarifies what parents can and cannot do,” Colle said. “By defining what is legal, it also defines what is not.”

Among the things that aren’t not legal are hitting children with fists, in the head or body, or with a belt or other object.

Whatever Finney’s intentions, it’s not clear the effort is going to get anywhere.

Kansas state Rep. John Rubin, the Republican chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, told KCTV the bill might not get out of the committee.

If it doesn’t, Finney said she’ll try again next year.

She’s not going to cry about it.

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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