Kansas House member Gail Finney, D-Wichita, has introduced a bill (house bill 2699) which would allow parents, school teachers and caregivers more power to spank children. She said the bill is designed to restore parental rights.
Kansas law currently dictates that corporal punishment is allowed but it can’t leave marks. Finney’s legislation would define corporal punishment of a child as “up to 10 forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child.” The bill also would allow “reasonable physical force to restrain a child during a spanking, acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result.”
The measure would allow parents to give permission to school officials to spank their children including students over 18 who are enrolled in high school.
When asked about the ‘bruising’ stipulation Finney said that all too often parents are subjected to interference from state child service agencies even when “it could be a small amount of a bruise (and) a parent could still be charged with child abuse when it wasn’t anything serious.”
Detractors insist the bill as well as the current legislation which allows for corporal punishment is antiquated and is actually detrimental to child rearing:
“Twenty, 30 years ago, we didn’t sit in car seats, and we do now. So maybe they did spank or were spanked as a child, but now we have research that shows it is less effective than time out. It tends to lead to more aggressive behavior with a child,” pediatric nurse practitioner Amy Terreros said. She is a child abuse expert at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Proponents say the bill defines what acceptable punishment is and thus protects children from any type of punishment over and beyond whats defined in the proposal which makes clear that hitting with a fist, belt or switch or anywhere on the child other than the buttocks could be considered battery or abuse.
The committee chair, John Rubin, said he isn’t sure if he’s going to consider the bill and Finney stated that if it isn’t debated then she is prepared to introduce a similar proposal during the next legislative session.
What are your views on spanking and do you think leaving welt marks and/or even bruising is acceptable punishment?