February 19th, 2014
09:50 AM ET
6 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.

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. cheryl

    Keep your hands off the kids!

    February 19, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Jade

    Anything to gain atttention. This legislation is absurd. It is not a teacher or caregivers role to physically punish a child. A parent and ONLY a parent determines what discipline is acceptable. A teacher has one of the most stressful jobs and when a teacher is stressed and emotional due to the actions of her entire class, what would stop him/her from taking things too far? No parent would be okay with this and my guess is this legislation was created by a group of childless idiots who are clueless about parenting or middle aged parents whose kids are raised and distanced from them. This is the government way over stepping its role..

    February 19, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. 865155

    Of all things in this country to be working on !!! This legislator needs to find something positive and proactive for this country to focus on.. Hitting kids ain't it ... I believe it is a parents decision on how their child is disciplined, giving anybody else permission and putting it in the law is absurd and scary.... Vote NO !!! then vote her out..

    February 19, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. A reasonable person

    Let's recap:

    1. Kansas wants to teach creationism as "science"
    2. Kansas wants to deny basic pubic services to gay couples
    3. Kansas wants to legislate laws allowing child abuse in schools

    Is it just me or is there a pattern here?

    February 19, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. DustyOnes

    Bring back the paddle....with holes drilled in it. Leave marks

    February 19, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. nycbiker

    This new proposal is just defining what is already legal. Not sure she was smart enough to realize that this proposed "fine tuning" would bring attention to the odd believe that violence is a good thing.

    February 19, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. okiejoe

    "Teacher hit me on the butt ELEVEN times, so I shot her. Just standing my ground!"

    February 19, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. fran

    Children acting in a disrespectful or intimidating manner or kids who bring guns to school with an intent to kill have more problems than just a permissive parent. I work with severely emotionally disturbed children and they come from such horrendous backgrounds, it is unimaginable. Often, they have been beaten, raped, neglected and then removed from their abusive parents only be to placed in numerous foster homes where they may be victimized again by foster parents, friends of foster parents or other foster children who have learned their sick behaviors from other sicker children and adults. They grow up, find each other and then have children whom they abuse. It is a vicious cycle. There are trainings people/parents can attend where they learn how to employ methods of constraint when a child becomes a danger to themselves or others..Yes, there are.safe(r) ways to constrain a child without resorting to hitting them. Corporal punishment only demeans a person, and creates a hostile, untrusting child who grows into a frustrated, damaged adult. This law is punitive and is only placating the insecure adult who thinks resorting to hitting a defenseless is somehow going to fix the problem. The problem is the way the child was raised to begin with. And once the damage is done, it is very difficult to fix. Don't add to the child's humiliation by hurting them more, We must build them up, no tear them down...

    February 19, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. w

    "The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for
    authority, they show disrespect to their elders.... They no longer
    rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
    chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their
    legs, and are tyrants over their teachers. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have
    no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all
    restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything and what passes
    for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for girls, they are
    forward, immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress."

    As "true" as these sentiments might seen...they are quotes from the time of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. I first heard them in the sixties to conteract the idea that America (and thus apparently the world) was doomed due to the beliefs and antics of the current youth. So you see, in spite of what many will tell you not ONLY will we survive and thrive in spite of the "youth of today and their issues" but it is also true that as much as things change...they stay the same!

    February 19, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. chris

    hitting maintains authority? no, it signals a loss of control of oneself

    February 19, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. Micaela Cleary

    Disgusting. And why is she wearing shades?

    February 19, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Physically Beaten

    I would like to remind my fellow citizens that any adult accused of striking another human being, physically, with hand, foot or weaponry is ONLY legal if the victim is a CHILD. Clearly, it doesn't even have to be their own child.


    "When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children anyway they could ...Hey! TEACHER! Leave them kids alone!" – Pink Floyd

    February 19, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. m123

    Any teacher or school worker who touches my kid will be really, really sorry.

    February 19, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Greg

    What if I lose count? Who will know?

    February 19, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. Orlando

    Teachers put up with people bad ass kids with no discipline. Personally I would kick their ass if the parents are not doing their job, end of story! If I am responsible for your child education, then he or she should know how to behave, but in most cases it's the parents and not the child that need a ass kicking.

    February 19, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. KL

    The occasional whoopin' does the lil' brats some good...

    February 19, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. tom l

    @J Perez

    "Only in Kansas could a stupid bill like this be proposed by some stupid creationist, conservative politician. Kansas must be one bizarre place to live."

    This could be a very eye opening experience and perhaps wake you up to the us vs. them mentality. This bill was written by an African American woman who is a democrat. Perhaps you will realize how silly you look and how awfully polarized we are on BOTH sides. Look in the mirror. You are no better.

    February 19, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. justjane

    @ The Real Tom Paine
    "or we could just shoot into a car because the stereo is too loud, or get drunk and wipe out 4 people on a highway and claim affluenza. How about shooting a man because he was texting and you thought his popcorn was a weapon? This is the world we live in. It begins, and ends with respect"

    but at least two of these examples are people that grew up during the time when schools used corporal punishment . So how does that explain what is going on with kids today? I agree with many here, don't touch my child. My husband or I will handle the punishment. i never wanted a teacher deciding what they thought required physical punishment. Let's face it, we have crazy teachers out there too. I had to write a letter every year to the school stating i did not want my child physically punished in any way. Unfortunately later I find out that my daughter's kindergarten teacher thought the ruler to the hand was ok. Wish i had known back then..i have 4 grown kids and have always been praised at how good they all act. And they didn't NEED a smack on their behind as a toddler either.

    February 19, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Dean

    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. It was safe to go to schools in the U.S. in 1950.

    February 19, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. BluntNRude

    It's pretty simple.

    You hit my child, one of us is going to the hospital & the other one is going to jail.

    February 19, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. Leigh


    While the rest of the country embarks to shed archaic and medieval practices in advancing modern civilization, Kansas is returning to its roots. Nice.

    Negative reinforcement works for dogs, so surely it will work for our kids.

    February 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Concerned occupant of Earth

    What most of you seem to not realize is that this is already legal, the bill is to help define what is allowed and not to exceed that.

    February 19, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. humans are wack

    legislators from the bottom to the top come up with such idiotic laws to cover up for the fact that they have zero productivity otherwise.

    February 19, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  24. Big Ben

    No one has the right to hit someone else's kid. This terrorizes not only the kid hit, but the rest of the kids in the room. Kansas has always been a backward state.

    February 19, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  25. Doug

    "A reasonable person

    Let's recap:

    1. Kansas wants to teach creationism as "science"
    2. Kansas wants to deny basic pubic services to gay couples
    3. Kansas wants to legislate laws allowing child abuse in schools

    Is it just me or is there a pattern here?"

    Yes there is, you are an idiot.

    February 19, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
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