February 19th, 2014
09:50 AM ET
6 months ago

Spanking bill in Kansas sparks controversy

(CNN) - A Kansas state lawmaker says a bill she's introduced that would give school teachers and caregivers expanded rights to spank children is not "intended to legalize child abuse."

Democratic state representative Gail Finney of Wichita put out a statement Tuesday after media stories about her legislation, which would expand on current Kansas law by allowing teachers and caregivers to spank children up to 10 times, possibly causing redness and bruising.

The legislation specifically would allow for spankings "up to ten forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child and any such reasonable physical force on the child as may be necessary to hold, restrain or control the child in the course of maintaining authority over the child, acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result."

In her statement, Finney said that "Parental corporal discipline in Kansas, along with 49 other states, has always been permitted. Unfortunately, Kansas has never affirmatively, expressly defined corporal discipline in Kansas statute, leaving the interpretation of that matter to administrative officials in the executive branch, law enforcement personnel, and the judicial branch."

Finney went on to write that her bill "is intended to (i) provide guidance to state officials in the administrative and judicial branches; (ii) serve as a guideline to parents; and (iii) protect Kansas children from abuse."

Some in Kansas are voicing opposition to the bill.

"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, a child abuse expert at Children's Mercy Hospital, told CNN affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rep. John Rubin, chairman of the Kansas House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, said he isn't sure the committee will consider the bill, according to KCTV.


Filed under: Kansas
soundoff (547 Responses)
  1. elvinmerij

    The best way to punish a child is not by hitting them. Not by screaming at them. Not by humiliating them.

    The best way to punish them is to make them do hard, physical, manual labor.

    And it has the added side benefit of getting some work done!

    February 19, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. jeff

    I don't know why teachers even have to debate this issue. Don't spank them...kick them out of school...and let the parents cry and whine at the school board to get them back in.

    At least it's out of their hands at that point.

    February 19, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  3. KT

    So- teach children to hit hard enough to hurt and then feel good about it! What a great lesson!

    Shame, shame, shame on Kansas for advocating child abuse! There are non-violent techniques that teach life long lessons from mistakes- without violence. I don't imagine the present or future crime rate in Kansas will be anything to be proud of.

    Marks left on a child should be an immediate report of abuse and the abuser jailed. Just can't believe this, Kansas.

    To introduce a possible scenario (no-brainer), here goes: a parent, babysitter, teacher, whatever (abuser),- is in a state of mind to take this nonsense even further. The child (innocent victim) ends up in the ER. The abuser is then able to say "I didn't break the law!".

    I do understand that ignorance (occasionally) can and does exist within the government realm. I did, however, believe that intelligence was to be taken for granted.

    February 19, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  4. nvsue

    I am a teacher and, although I have some students with very challenging behaviors, I would NEVER resort to spanking, even if it were permitted by my school district. What are you teaching children when you spank them? That hitting someone is an appropriate way to deal with your own frustration.

    February 19, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  5. Jim

    Kids are really messed up have no respect for anyone. The parents want to be friends with the kids and some party with their children. I loved my parents but feared them at the same time which made me respect them, and other adults. Their are so many things wrong with the way parents treat their children it is no wonder that the US has 5% of the worlds population uses 50% of the worlds drugs, and has the largest prison population in the world. Kids don't get spanked until they go to prison.

    February 19, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. Mike

    Any teacher these days that takes up a paddle to discipline a kid that isn't theirs deserves what he or she gets if that kid is big enough to fight back. I think you're just stupid to even try that given that these days kids come to school with guns and start killing just because they want to.
    Also, if some school tried to physically discipline me when I was in high school, I would have went ballistic and assaulted the person trying to assault me. And sooner or later, I'd have likely physically hurt that teacher or administrator badly enough that they would have ended up in the hospital or cemetery. Don't assault children, it's a bad idea all around.

    February 19, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  7. darth cheney

    "Behold, the greatest breakthrough in labor relations since the cat-o-nine-tails!" -Mr. Burns

    February 19, 2014 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  8. mike from iowa

    Kansas is nutsville.

    February 19, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  9. DEE

    I am a pediatrician. Was spanked by mom, dad, several teachers, at least one principal (not in the USA of course). All in all, probably had 100 spankings with belts, wooden chalk board dusters, a metal rod in shop one day, and the infamous "magic cane" which was a 3 foot long bamboo cane by Meneer Marais. In all those, only one was ever out of control, the matron in our boarding school hostel. I was a pretty naughty boy. The results are,,,, I learned obedience, respect for authority and rules, honesty and most important that violence is not an acceptable form of behavior. I am my own living proof that discredits those who say that spanking teaches kids to grow up being violent. The problem is that parents don't start using appropriate firm discipline early enough in life.

    February 19, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. mike from iowa

    Hey teacher, leave those kids alone! All in all you are all just bricks in the wall.

    February 19, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Daniela

    So when this idiot makes a mistake, does she get her bottom spanked too? A child is not a human punching bag you freaking idiot. I was hit as a child (and threatened with a lot of scary physical abuse) and at 43 am still screwed up. I am furious about this -we need to be moving in the direction of no violence yet this is what she thinks is a good idea? We solve issues by hitting -excellent. All I can say is that she is a horrible person and should be thrown out of office.

    February 19, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  12. J Perez

    Why the heck did Dorothy want to go back to Kansas ? It must be one whacked state to live in.

    February 19, 2014 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  13. AnaB

    I was spanked, and worse as a child. I vowed to not do the same with my children. I have two children I don't spank. I took in two children temporarily when mom lost custody who were spanked. They were out of control when I got them. As a foster I could not of course touch them, which I would not have. It was a lot of work doing the time out thing. One night while my hubby was working one of them was acting up bad. It took me an hour of placing him back in time out before he stayed. I was frustrated and tired, but didn't quit. Finally he stayed and took his discipline. After that, we only had to tell them once and they knew to get into time out. They were so well behaved. Fast forward a few years back with mom, and out of control again. While not all kids are the same and respond the same, and while I don't ever want to tell other parents how to discipline their children, I, in my opinion, believe that if a parent wants to put in the work, time outs and grounded is more effective. Today my middle school child receives nothing but praises from his teachers on what a polite and good student he is. Same with my grade schooler. Never once have they ever been in trouble at school.

    February 19, 2014 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  14. Daniela

    I am at loss for words after reading the article on CNN regarding your proposed bill.

    Children are not our human punching bags. What you are suggesting only teaches that we solve conflict by hitting.

    Humiliating a child and taking away their dignity by physically abusing them is sick. Do we take adults out and hit them when they make a mistake on the job? No -because it is not appropriate and one would be locked up in jail.

    I really hope that you can set aside your personal agenda (possibly even issues from your own childhood that you never got over) and work on programs that teach respect.

    There is no respect in anything that you are suggesting and I am furious that this is even a topic.

    Just terrible..."might makes right" is for bullies and people with unresolved anger issues. Get therapy and move on to something constructive!

    February 19, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. Hands Off

    So what behavior from a kid qualifies as a spankable offense? What if teacher has an anger management problem. Assault is assault.

    February 19, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. guest

    First of all, it's not "hitting" it's spanking. If parent's aren't going to discipline their children, then maybe the schools should. Look, I grew up in the '80's and '90's and got spanked when I did something wrong and turned out perfectly fine. If I were you, I'd rather children get spanked a few times when they're young then end up the in jail or worse when they're older. Just something to think about it.

    February 19, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  17. jenn janedoe

    What on earth is wrong with this Gail Finney and or the supporters of this bill?! I would give my kids complete consent to defend themselves. This is NOT your job and is completely unacceptable.

    February 19, 2014 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  18. My Way

    Another example of the ignorance that is so Kansas

    February 19, 2014 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  19. Better NOT

    If teachers or caregivers spanked my kids, i will take that county and state to court.

    February 19, 2014 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  20. heroicslugtest

    A lawmaker with some good ideas. I must be in the twilight zone.

    February 19, 2014 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  21. AdolphH

    Spanking is not abuse. Grow a pair. Your grandparents are laughing at you, needing a law to spank your rotten kids.

    February 20, 2014 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  22. ewfjcopwaef

    Is that 10 spanks in a row, 10 spanks per day, or 10 spanks in a certain period of time? Can I spank 10 times, wait a few minutes, and get another 10?

    February 20, 2014 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. Ray Morris

    I, for one, was spanked as a child and I feel that it had made me a better person with morals. I have a daughter that is soon to be seventeen. We tried time out when she was young, to no avail. However, we did find that a good old-fashioned whooping (yes, we're from North Carolina) worked wonders. My wife and I work very hard in order for her to attend a private Christian school and we were informed when she started that they taught from a biblical aspect; spare the rod, spoil the child. To this I replied "If she deserves a spanking, I expect her to get one, and I also request notification of it so I can issue another one if I see necessary. She , fortunately, has not gotten any at school and has had very little here at home. I feel like if you make it count, it will stick with them and correct their behavior.

    February 20, 2014 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  24. HZ

    Physical Discipline is good for kids, all the older generations grew up good with good discipline, now the younger generations are all spoiled and know nothing about self discipline. that's where those mass shootings, school shootings, random street shootings come from – kids who don't know what's good, what's bad, and can't control self.

    February 20, 2014 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  25. Are these people crazy?

    This is probably the craziest thing I have ever heard of. Giving instructions to teachers and caregivers – which I interpret as not the parents – on how many times you are allowed to strike a child, and allowing any such amount on force necessary to restrain a child while beating them to the point of leaving bruises on the body? I think this woman is out of her mind, and should be removed from her post. Immediately.
    Under no circumstances should a teacher or caregiver be permitted to strike a child. EVER! Such brutality should never be tolerated even encouraged against anyone, particularly not against a child.

    February 20, 2014 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
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