Currently, Kansas state law allows parents, teachers, and caregivers to spank children as long as you don't leave a mark. But state Rep. Gail Finney doesn't think that's strict enough, and has proposed a law that would allow children to be spanked up to 10 times, potentially leaving bruises, according to The Wichita Eagle. “What’s happening is there are some children that are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents, they’re not minding school personnel,” Finney said.
And in case this sounds a lot like legalized child abuse, it's about parental rights, as in, protecting a parent's right to beat their child and not go to prison. The goal of the law is to define corporal punishment, which is already legal in the state, so adults can discipline children without fear. The bill clearly outlines that using fists, belts, or hitting anywhere other than the butt is illegal.
The thinking is that plain old spanking should be fair game. Apparently children are being taken by the state Department of Children and Families for "abusive" spankings that weren't even that serious. “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,” Finney explained.
A few people think this is a bad idea. Thirty states across the country have banned corporal punishment in schools, and the practice is outdated. As child abuse expert Amy Terreros told KCTV, maybe a parent was spanked as a child and turned out fine, "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." State Rep. John Rubin, the chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee that would review the bill, isn't even sure if they'll consider it.
But if they do consider it, and pass it, they won't be the most pro-spanking law in the country. Yes, it's all the usual suspects. As of 2013: kids are still getting paddled (yes, paddled) in Georgia, though that's declining in Mississippi. Florida banned paddling elementary school students and then un-banned it. A city in Tennessee almost banned corporal punishment, then decided to do more research. In 2012, there was an uproar in Texas when two male assistant principles paddled two girls so hard they had bruises. Parents thought it was inappropriate for men to paddle girls without a same sex administrator in the room. As long as the paddler can prove they're beating the paddlee for "discipline," it's all legal.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.