February 19th, 2014
09:50 AM ET
9 years 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.

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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. ardvrk

    10 times within how long of a time frame? 10 times, you walk out of the room, back in, and another ten times?

    For some brats, 1000 wouldn't be enough.

    February 20, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. Larry L


    Let's see now, in !950's many children were paddles, had their hands hit with rulers and other minor forms of physical punishment. I don't recall ever hearing of shootings, rape, extreme bullying or any of the things that plague schools today.
    In Texas schools the 50s we were beat with paddles hard enough to raise blood blisters. If a teacher did that to one of my grandkids that paddle would go where the sun doesn't shine. They'd call the teacher "Mr. Popsicle" from that day on...

    February 20, 2014 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  3. LittleBear

    Hmmm, time-outs, stern talking-to, and finger-waggling isn't enough???

    February 20, 2014 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  4. Maine-iac

    How is this a destructive law? So many of you are responsible for the despicable nature of our current generation. I am a member of this generation, so I have experience. My peers [not all, just a significant portion] are excessively self-centered and completely disrespectful. I'm not saying that I'm the poster child for how kids should act, but I was spanked as a young child and outside of sporadic sarcasm, have never done anything that could be considered a disservice to my family's name.

    That being said, I am not the oddities, the outlier. A half dozen of my schoolmates, whom I've known since early grade school were spanked, and they too align with my level of regard. It will likely knock you into wonderment that only 1 of us was raised up by religious parents.

    The fact that you condemn those that support this method of punishment as brutal, misanthropic people shows your naivety and prejudice, and I can state with a significant level of surety that your children grow up fairly unconfined to the feelings of others and the harm they can cause. You are the same group of people that feel the affinity case was handled appropriately, and that the parents aren't to blame.

    To be honest, I'm not sure if it's the spanking that imprints this level of respect on children or the display of parental control and responsibility it takes for said parent to spank. I'm in my early 20s now, and have a child, the most precious thing in my life, I can't imagine spanking her as she is an infant- but let it be known, she will respect her elders, she will abide by my rules, and she will not get away with a swat on the wrist, or a 'cell phone taken away' for stealing, or doing drugs, we'll see what each other's children are doing in 15 years, and I'm betting that society will be smiling on mine.

    February 20, 2014 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  5. julla

    Spanking shows children that when situations get too frustrating, it is ok to resort to physical violence. There are better ways to parent. "Hey little Johnny, as an adult it's ok if hit you, but you'll be punished if you hit another kid in class."

    February 20, 2014 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  6. julla

    Is this the Kansas where most people believe the sun revolves around the earth? And where humans didn't evolve from apes? Oh, right, that Kansas.

    February 20, 2014 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  7. brian

    How does due process enter into this? When I was in grade school I saw teachers discipline students for any reason or no reason. Some teachers just don't like children. They drifted into teaching because they washed out of something else.

    February 20, 2014 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  8. Salvia58

    So what does this teach the kids ? Resort to handling problems by using physical force.

    February 20, 2014 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  9. Don DaMiddle

    It doesn't matter what the law is.
    If a school district wants affordable liability insurance...
    They will NEVER allow spanking.

    February 20, 2014 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  10. Name Paladin

    Tip of the iceberg here in Kansas. The nuts are running the place into the 1950's.

    February 20, 2014 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  11. David

    Corporal punishment NEVER works!! When it's used, it almost always is never done in a controlled environment and almost always escalates to the levels of abuse. I've never seen or heard of correct usage of corporal punishment. It inflicts unnecessary physical and emotional pain onto the kids and there is no solid support that it enhances and promotes discipline among children. I myself went through it when I was younger and I've known others that have too. It is a degrading, archaic form of punishment that should be banned, especially in schools. Corporal punishment is an absolute abomination.

    Last semester in a speech class I had and we gave persuasive essays, I had a classmate who tried to argue why corporal punishment is a good thing and why it shows love to our children, and without a doubt was the worst speech I've ever heard. She made countless contradictions everywhere and seriously was delusional enough to think that corporal punishment shows love to our kids and that it teaches them to listen because parents care for them.

    February 20, 2014 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  12. Gil

    Well, let's see... 50 years ago teachers enforced classroom discipline with corporal punishment on occasion when sitting in the corner didn't work (yesteryears timeout). Usually such an episode was followed with a notification of said discipline in the form of a notice sent to the child's parents describing the action and the events that led up to the discipline. For most kids of that era, such a notice resulted in a second application of corporal punishment delivered by the child's parents. Cases of over zealous corporal punishment by teachers and/or school administrators did happen on a few occasions, but were extremely rare. On the plus side, kids showed respect to their teachers and other elders by and large, and there was discipline enough in classrooms that those wishing to learn actually could. Along come Doctor Spock and the new thinking that corporal punishment permanently scars a child's psyche and at the same time parents felt no one had the right to punish THEIR precious little brat. Now I can't prove cause and effect, but our educational system has surely taken a great leap backwards since those days when teachers were able to utilize corporal punishment along with the THREAT of corporal punishment to maintain order. In addition, children exposed to a harsher environment learned to steel their wills better .. Suicide because someone bullied them? Never heard of such a thing until these new age children who have always been coddled had a run in with someone who wasn't impressed with their meekness. Just some food for thought.

    February 20, 2014 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  13. snowdogg

    Makes no sense... corporeal punishment is not for MY kids.

    February 20, 2014 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  14. concerned

    Using violence to solve problems teaches children to use violence to solve problems.

    February 20, 2014 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  15. Name

    First of all, I would assume that just living in Kansas is tantamount to corporal punishment, so all they would be doing is doubling up.

    Secondly, any person other than myself or my girls' mother that would spank either of them would end up with broken bones, teacher or otherwise. Really very simple.

    February 20, 2014 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  16. Lorraine Grillo

    I've read this article over and over again and I have to say that this is the most ridiculous bill I have ever heard of! I'll be honest, if a teacher or an adult other than me were to ever spank my son they had better run! And not stop until they cross the Canadian border! Seriously, parents are responsible for raising their children and no one should ever have a right to raise a hand to a child. Gail Finney should be ashamed of herself for even suggesting such a thing!!

    February 20, 2014 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  17. Ken

    "Let's see now, in !950's many children were paddle[d]...."

    Yea, and all those kids grew up to be todays' messed up adults....

    February 20, 2014 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  18. worldcares

    "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."

    That would be legalizing child abuse.

    February 20, 2014 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  19. ConanDestroyer

    Killing the unborn is not enough for Liberals. Now they want to "leave bruises" on children.

    February 20, 2014 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  20. miscreantsall

    Time out…………oh please. Look what time out has done. Nothing.

    No one is "better adjusted" today than they were years ago. In fact, all that "new age behavioral" stuff, has created generations of self absorbed, selfish, spoiled brats.

    There is a balance, you need the "spanking stuff" and the "behavioral stuff", carefully doled out when appropriate and with compassion.

    As the pendulum swings, it should not be about abuse vs frackin brats.

    February 20, 2014 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  21. Shar

    I think that's a subject that's best left to parents. Outsiders, teachers, caregivers have no business spanking kids that are not their own.

    February 20, 2014 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  22. Heather Annastasia

    Two points:

    1) My experience as a child in schools where corporal punishment was allowed, and every teacher and principal I have spoken to has concured, is that it was THE SAME couple of BOYS who got paddled on a daily or weekly basis. So it was clearly not effective.

    2) In NJROTC mini-bootcamp on the Great Lakes Naval Base, there was one troop of kids from some school down South that behaved so terribly that ALL OF US were punished with exercises several times every day and night. As it turned out, they were from a state that allowed corporal punishment. After a few days, their teacher lined them all up and paddled them. Most of them waddled away crying. Did their behavior improve? NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST! They continued their horrendous behavior for the remainder of the mini-bootcamp. Shortly after we got home, our instructor received a letter assuring us that the school in question would not be allowed to return to the program. It's possible that the corporal punishment contributed to their behavior, but it is absolutely certain that it did NOTHING to correct their behavior.

    February 20, 2014 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
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