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. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    Teachers spanking kids? No way.

    February 19, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. Joe

    Call me old fashioned but some kids deserve a good old spanking once in a while, not at the hands of their teachers though.

    February 19, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. ironman59

    Something is wrong with the water in this state. Add this to the legislation that people can refuse to treat others on "religious grounds" is nothing but stone age. I student can be suspended days for giving a hug but the school can beat the daylights out of a child. If for some absurd reason this passes & I lived in the state it would be on. I would put in writing that the school is not to touch my child under any cricumstances. I don't care what party is proposing this law it is barbaric.

    February 19, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  4. JeffreyRO5

    What is wrong with Kansas?? I mean, I think someone wrote a book called, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" but I thought it was maybe a tongue-in-cheek look at funny, quirky things (like, I dunno, maybe they have the world's largest ball of twine somewhere?). But it turns out that Kansans really are trapped in a time warp of 50 years ago, where kids should be beaten, that discriminating against gay people pleases the Lord, and women's wombs are public property. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in such a place!

    February 19, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  5. Anna

    How do you teach a child to be a respectful adult? You beat the crap out them, that's how...or at least people in Kansas seem to think so....OMG!

    February 19, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. Bob

    And if the legislator misses a congressional session, or shows up late for a session, she should be slapped across her face firmly enough to redden or bruise it, but not more than 10 times? Why not just slap adults with disagree with too? Have you lost your mind?!?!?!

    February 19, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  7. Le Cadien

    New state motto: "Kansas . . . More Backward than Mississippi"

    February 19, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  8. zusamna

    If we spank at home, most of the time I would think it's tempered with love, an angry teacher hitting my grandkids, my great grandkids, NOOOOOOOOOO!

    February 19, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  9. Rosslaw

    This is needed just in case a child questions whether the earth is 6,000 years old.

    February 19, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  10. tim

    No need for such legislation as all parents are model parents having model children who grow into model citizens. Then again, teachers see the results of our parenting skills, police arrest and stick our results in jail, and then the experts come out with their findings as how we are all doing it wrong and claim to know how to turn out healthy wonderful children and adults. We are a humorous species still evolving thank goodness.

    February 19, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Jaqi

    One of the reasons that children go to school is not only to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but it is to also learn how to acquire social skills. Learning violence from adults is not the best idea to instill in children. Discussions and teaching compassion is the way to get to the heart of a child or teenager. And what about the creepazoids who are weird and will spank girls who are wearing dresses? Law suits are just around the corner for the teachers of Kansas. Talk about stupid. I would like to see the teachers write an essay for reasons to violate a child's personal space with violent contact. That is why it is so important to not elect weirdos to political office. SICK!

    February 19, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. schoolsub

    To all of you bleeding heart liberals: Unless you have been in a classroom of rotten, miscreant, brats, you don't have the knowledge to speak to this issue. There are kids that you can talk to until you are blue in the face and they just won't behave in a manner appropriate for a learning environment. Some of them are kids whose parents only use force to establish compliant behavior; others are the offspring of the "I'm okay you're okay" parents and are spoiled to the core. Sometimes corporal punishment is the only way to get through to them. When I was in the eighth grade I up close and personal with the "board of education" with repetition of well over ten swats. It was one of those with several holes drilled through it. There was no repercussions for the teacher because I knew better than to tell my parents about it. I knew that the willow tree out back would quickly yield one of its branches to my mom and to the "sit down" area of my body. If my dad found out about the spanking his leather belt would be quickly applied to my backside.

    February 19, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  13. fizban1

    Well, I think as long as we're able to spank legislators up to ten times for being silly, I'm OK with it.
    Just kidding. The MINUTE I heard a teacher laid a hand on one of my kids, I'd pull them from that district, and probably from the state. What utter, complete NONSENSE. I'd like to think KS is hanging its collective head in shame, but somehow, I doubt it.

    February 19, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  14. Bob

    About time. Kids these days are not held accountable for their actions and we can thank the namby pamby bleeding hearts for creating thieves, rapists and murderers. Little Johnny needs punishment when he cusses people out, steals something or commits other offences. Otherwise they will grow and end up in jail. Or the could use the excuse that kid di after killing 4 people- Affluenza. Same thing.

    Here is another thought- Hold the parents accountable for their kids actions. If they don't want to hold little johnny accountable for breaking the law then they should go to jail in their place. Then cut off any Public Assistance they may be on.

    February 19, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  15. aroth

    Absurd. Teachers have no business spanking anybody.

    February 19, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  16. schoolsub

    I remember hearing that the principal of my high school called a kid's father: "Mr. Smith, Johnny acted up in school today and will receive a spanking. Either you will administer it in the privacy of my office or I will handle it for you. What is your desire?......Fine, we will be waiting in my office until you arrive at the school. I will let you and your son handle this in the privacy of my office and I will wait outside until the spanking is completed. Thank you."

    February 19, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. Damia

    I love some of the arguments put forth.

    1) Back in my time kids did not.... Umm yea they did. You just did not hear about it because newspapers and radio were the dominant methods of communication and both are focused locally except for national news. This started to change with the advent of television and faster communication. People did not advertise when things went wrong and kept it hushed up. The fact that no one did something crazy in your school or your town does not mean it did not happen elsewhere.

    2) I got spanked and.... So? Congrats, you got spanked and turned out well. Yet plenty of others never got spanked and turned out just fine. So spanking is hardly the only method of discipline. Having read almost all of the comments, one thing I did notice is most of those who were spanked mentioned being afraid of it happening again, fearing Dad or parents, etc. Fear is the most simple way of controlling someone. As for time outs and such, yea they do work as long as you do them correctly and as long as you are clear to the child why they are being punished. My Dad spanked me and I loathed him for it but then again his idiotic dad made him break rocks for hours just for kicks so I was not surprised. My mom stuck me in a room with no TV, books or anything to do. It drove me nuts and I learned a lot quicker.

    3) Parents don't spank their kids and they are.... Correlation is not causation. Less spanking does not equal bad behavior. Out of control kids comes from bad parenting period. Good parents teach their kids good behavior and how to be good people. Bad parents teach the opposite. If you want your kids to be good kids then you spend time with them, you remember that *you* are a role model, you set limits for your kids, and most of all, you praise and reward them when they act good. It means that if you want your kid to be quiet and respectful in church and they are, you acknowledge that fact. If you want them to respect their elders then acknowledge when they treat their elders with respect. A cycle of positive feedback and encouragement yields better results than always focusing on the negative your kids do. Make them want to be good rather than avoiding being bad.

    February 19, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  18. The Fact of the Matter

    "... we have research that shows it is less effective than time out." Make that "selective research".

    February 19, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. darknesscrown

    I heard one of the reasons behind this bill, apart from just trying to get Kansas in the news as being a yet another utterly insane Red state, was that a supporter of the bill had problem with children not respecting authority. Well, I was a kid once, and usually was in trouble all the time for disrespecting authority. Why? Because the authority figures trying to discipline me weren't worthy of respect...they didn't earn it. I swear, these fundamentalists think that they don't have to earn anything from kids. LOL There is enough research to support the assertion that spanking is counter-productive and actually hinders keeping kids in line. But we all know how the conservative states respect research and logic...

    February 19, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  20. NMBillsFan

    This is way wrong. A teacher or caregiver would need my permission to touch my child not the government's. And you can bet they wouldn't get it.

    February 19, 2014 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  21. Christopher

    I support this. Parents don't want to take accountability for anything and they pass that on to their kids and tell there kids it's alright to talk back to the authority and that they are never wrong. What sickens me is how liberal we have become no balance in this failing country.

    February 19, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. mr sensitive

    from al I've seen the little terrorists need more than that ....
    if parents can't control them, who else will. ?

    February 19, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  23. Tychi

    I was not the perfect little kid for my parents or teachers. I received many spankings over my formative years. I look back and do not remember ever getting a spanking from my parents that I did not deserve. I can not say the same for school. Arbitrary reasons always seemed to pop up. One for yelling out when I sat on a thumbtack, one for not doing homework, one for a kid hitting me. The memories. The one thing I do remember is the hit itself. Hitting me so hard while bent over, I was lifted off of the ground....and you want to allow that 10 times? That is criminal.

    February 19, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. lemonlift

    KANSAS. . . ..But it IS child abuse. . .You wouldn't hit your wife or your dog but it's ok to hit a child ? Terrorizing, humiliating or physically hurting the child is not disipline, it's displace adult anger against someone smaller. . .. Kansas seems to full of bullies and cowards.

    February 19, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  25. Leslie

    No one better touch my child, ever.

    February 19, 2014 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
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