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. allaisa

    So the kids will be issued ID cards listing how many times they were spanked by each person so that perosns can check whether they are within the 10 spank limit or not before administering spanking.

    February 19, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. DickPerry

    Americans... LMAO... Savages...

    February 19, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. sarah

    If any teacher or care provider EVER laid a hand on any of my children, we would have a SERIOUS problem. I would never spank my kids up to "10 times with an open hand that may cause redness and bruising" so no one else better even DARE!!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. ram

    No one better lay a hand on my kids. We can discipline at home, and I assure you my kids don't get away with things. But I know my kids and what works best with them. If one of mine got a swat at school she would never set foot in there again. She is extremely shy and would be so traumatized she wouldn't go and would be damaged. She has trouble just speaking up at all, and that would be a disaster for her. The other is completely different, but if she knew school was a place where she would be hit when they don't always know what is really going on she would be so scared she would fail and hide in the bathroom, cry, and cling to me. At home they know consequences and they know we will be fair.

    I don't know if a teacher or principal is judging MY child's needs or angry, frustrated, mean, or didn't understand the situation. Tell me what happened and I assure you it will be dealt with. Do NOT lay a hand on my child. You bruise my child and you will find that it has consequences as well.

    I had a spanking once in Catholic school because I missed a lot of school and was home with mumps. I rode my bike in a flood 2 miles to school and when I got there the little witch (she did look exactly like a little witch in her habit) spanked me for missing. I ended up sick from getting out too soon, the trauma she added to me being sick, and missed more school. But if anyone had bothered to find out why I missed school we might have gotten help for all the awful things going on at home. Instead, spanking me for being out with the mumps? Seriously? That taught me a big lesson, actually. No one gives a crap if you have horrible things going on that made you miss or if you are really sick, so don't bother to speak up and you better show up no matter what happens. I hated her, that school, and life in general after that for a good while until I was in a school with people who didn't use paddles and who cared enough to speak kindly.

    My point is I want them to love school and learning, follow the rules because it's the right thing to do, and there are many ways to punish a child that don't involve hitting them or bruising them.

    February 19, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. ram

    How about instead of hitting them we bother to find out if they actually need intervention or other help? Nah, easier just to bruise 'em up.

    February 19, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. Don

    I grew up in Kansas in the 60s. No one I ever knew in Wichita or outlying rural areas EVER got spanked only 10 times on fully clothed buttocks. I remember, unfortunately vividly, being beaten with a leather belt until my "parents" arms simply got tired over the simplest of things that kids do. Many, many of my school mates and friends suffered the same shame in quiet because who in Kansas would listen to us? "What is wrong with Kansas?" I live in California now, used time outs only on my daughter and son and loved them non-stop. They are both in college on scholarships, athletic, don't drink, don't do drugs, and volunteer regularly at church ALL without being asked or beaten EVER. It can be done. Raising kids is hard work. Parents have to PUT IN THE TIME, and not take the short cut of beating the children! What is wrong with Kansas indeed?!

    February 19, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Anyone who advocates spanking as a disciplinary tool whether in school or out is completely out of their minds! It has been proven countless times by countless studies that spanking is not an affective way to deal with kids. Only the simple or primitive minded, or people too stupid to manipulate kids using their brains would ever resort to spanking. I know because I was abused as a child.
    I'm sorry that you were abused.
    I am so sorry that your parents did not know the difference betweeen a good old fashioned butt-whipping and a beating that left you terrorized and marked for life in more ways than one.
    I really am sorry.

    February 19, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. b

    kids used to be spanked and were more respectful and disciplined. Now they run amok in the schools and have no respect for others. if parents want to beat their children, let them. if the kill them, well we have laws for that.

    February 19, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. TONE

    Charity begins at home my mom use to always say this when ever she give me a spanking, and i went to catholic school in Guyana South America, and Nuns use to be my teachers, and they did not spare the wild cane they also spanked me when i misbehave, and i turned out good. Teachers should be given the freedom to man handle some of these ROTTEN KIDS WE HAVE HERE IN AMERICA, I was saying this for a long time finally someone heard me.

    February 19, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. A Teacher

    I am a teacher, and even if I think a student "needs/should" be spanked I rally against it. Spanking is a parent's job, some parents can't or don't know how to do their job. I have to admit that there are too many sick people calling themselves "teachers" to put their hand on my child's "clothed bottom". If the child needs to be spanked let the parent do it. If the child acts out in school we have many responces for that child.

    February 19, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. Joe Biden

    I wonder how long this takes until a kid winds up in the hospital, or someone winds up in jail?

    February 19, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. happynurse

    yeah, great idea since it has been proven that spanking is an ineffective form of discipline. I was spanked as a kid, alot, and I didnt respect my parents for it, I lied constantly to try and get out of being hit, and it took me into my 30's to mend the anger I felt towards my parents. i went on to have 3 boys, never spanked them , and they are all responsible young men, no arrests, no contact with the police no unwanted pregnancies, good grades, good jobs etc etc. Its all about how much time and pateince you have with your children. Make it count

    February 19, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. Chris Brown

    Who in the hell in thier right mind hits thier kid(s) under ANY circumstances?isnt that by definition assault and battery?if we allow this in schools and daycare centers what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the "civilized" world?

    February 19, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. Name

    30 years ago kids weren't shooting up schools. Now they are!

    February 19, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Chien

    The children need to be disciplined for bad behaviors. This society has been too permissive, and the kids growing up turning out to be brats, ungrateful, and bad; many become criminals. Look at the crime rates in our cities.

    February 19, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Joe Biden

    So are they going to legalize horse whipping prisoners too? I hear that gets results.

    February 19, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. Doug

    Spanking. Does it work? Sure. However, I find it unsettling who many people are quick to jump on the spanking bandwagon. I wonder how many stay their hand until it is the last resort versus how many just go straight to it.

    February 19, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Jerry23

    Spanking is the only form of discipline that works. Timeout sucks and is for the simple minded – it doesn't work either...look at all the jails, it's a timeout hub and there are records of people trying to get in!!!!

    February 19, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. Educator

    Kudos to this legislator! I was spanked as a child and I'm appreciative to my parents for doing it. I was not abused, but I was spanked. There is a difference. This is exactly the problem now. I see it on a daily basis where children are more disrespectful, children are telling the parents what to do, children are doing things my generation would have never thought about at such an age and I'm just 29. I'm so sick of this oprah mumbo jumbo about studies saying it is ineffective. Show me where saying little Johnnie, you are in time-out has proven to be effective. I would hope that people understand that every study is not practical. Sounds great in theory, but not practical at all. Furthermore, we all know we can make studies say what we want. Thank you!

    February 19, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Michael

    I love how you get all these people who say spanking and physically restraining a child never works, it isn't effective, it makes the problem worse, yet no one offers any alternative to a completely out of control child. Time outs? That won't stop an out of control child. A good spanking, with the knowledge that more could be coming if the misbehavior continues, brings a child under control.

    Spanking does not work, however, if the child knows a parent or another authority figure will side with the child despite the child's misbehavior. In fact, any sort of punishment will not work when that happens. The reason spanking does not work like it used to is because society has overreacted to it so much that a child knows someone with authority will sympathize with him. But if authority figures all agree to use it, only when necessary of course (and by that I mean to bring a physically out of control child under control), then realistically it will only need to be used sparingly, because children will understand that misbehavior will be punished.

    February 19, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Chris Holtry

    I'm fine with it, on one condition. The bill will have a clause that extends spanking rights to voters. Get ready, Gail.

    February 19, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    When I was a kid, they didn't use any form of corporal punishment in the schools. They called our parents. I would have preferred the corporal punishment.

    February 19, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Schmoogalicious

    Wow. If a teacher or caregiver struck an adult sufficiently hard to cause "redness and bruising" he or she would be thrown in jail. But it's somehow OK if it's a child that is assaulted? Come on Kansas, get your act together.

    February 19, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. David

    I disagreed with that because One of the family members of the other spank him One thing about her is that she has no skills in communicating with deaf child which made me furious He stay with them for three months all summer by the time he came back to his mother we try to talk in sign languages not one word came out of him We had to teach him again Now the father gave up custod.y the father dont have any skills in sign language at all

    February 19, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Vince

    More gems from the place you flyover on your way to somewhere better.

    February 19, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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