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. blue079

    It is not up to the teachers or caregivers to physically discipline a child. If there is bruising or redness, how are the parents supposed to know that the kid wasn't abused in a different way or given more than the allowed "10 spanks"? This law seems that it would hide abuse and make it harder to prove than it already is.

    Besides, isn't there plenty of research that says corporal punishment of children decreases their IQ? There are other ways to control children's behavior, and if the child is repeatedly misbehaving, maybe the child needs outside help or to be moved into a different environment.

    February 19, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. peterz

    A self-destructive bill. One prank was illegal. One prank was legal?

    February 19, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Social Worker/counselor

    I don't like this at all. We don't allow adults to be reprimanded physically by authority figures. Teachers aren't spanked by Superintendents when they mess up, why should teachers be trusted to spank kids? Teachers are only human. They have emotional issues, various temperaments and are capable of making poor choices just like the rest of us. That being said, permission to hit our kids can only lead to trouble.

    February 19, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Wake up People!

    Hi Rudy, so you're a classic movie buff too? I watched Picnic also. Along with two of my all time favorites. Cat on a hot tin roof and A Place in the Sun. Elizabeth Taylor is my all time favorite actress!!

    February 19, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. Dan in Colo

    Don wrote:

    "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?!"

    Same thing happened to me growing up. Thanks for the memories, Mom and Dad.

    February 19, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    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
    We have a lot in common TONE!
    "Charity begins at home.." your mother used to say BEFORE spanking you! LOL!
    Mine used to say " I brought you into this world and I will take you out" among other "endearing" phrases she used to mutter as she was dispensing one of her behavior adjustment techniques aka as a butt-whipping.
    And the nuns... boy, were they effective in their disciplining or what?
    You'd think they'd be softer and gentler what with them being the wives of Christ and such!
    Not the penguins I had!

    February 19, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. D. Thurman

    This Kansas bill is a purely archaic way to justify child abuse. Oh hooray, just what we need in society, more children that will never trust adults. Good one.

    February 19, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. MC-MSgt

    I love the bleeding heart responses here. Spankings should be reserved for those who earn them, and there are certainly kids that do. Spend some time in public schools around the country and look at the laughable conditions, lack of control, flat out disobedience, and lack of parental support that many schools/teachers are dealing with.

    When I was a kid we got spanked. Not a savage beating that left you bruised and bleeding, but enough to get your attention and make you think twice about the behavior that led up to it. I don't remember any of the schools I went to being the out of control messes that many public schools are today. I think there is a correlation, but that's just my opinion.

    I have 5 children myself, three grown and out of the house. I think my oldest got the last spanking I gave when he was about 9. He may have gotten 3 or 4 his entire life, and every one he earned by his own actions.

    I wonder if people who have kids that get caught up in gangs, drugs, violence, and other anti social behavior ever wish they had spanked their kids when they were younger vice letting them run wild...

    February 19, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Me


    "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."
    GOP lawmaking at it's finest! The only question I have is whether or not this originated in ALEC, or did these rubes actually spend taxpayers' time and money to come up with this themselves?
    The GOP is filled with deeply sick people!
    Hey RS, do you know how to read???
    "Democratic state representative Gail Finney of Wichita put out a statement Tuesday"
    She is a democrat NOT a repub, you are such a partisan hack you can even identify what party the individual belongs to, you simply assume if you don't agree with it it must be from the GOP. Sad thing is, this doesn’t surprise me a bit, get a clue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. ASG

    Why do people equate "not spanking" with "no discipline?" My children have never been spanked and are very well behaved at home, in public, and at school. They are certainly disciplines, and I don't have to hit them to teach them manners, respect, and responsibility. Anyone with half a brain can figure that out. Many parents are simply too lazy and figure a swat on the rear is quick and easy. Shockingly enough, quick and easy doesn't work when it comes to parenting.

    However, if I did spank my children at home, I would NEVER allow another person to spank them as well. Caregiver, teacher, or even a grandparent - don't even think about laying a hand on my child. Your hand comes into contact with my kid's rear end, and you'll be hearing from my lawyer. Who in their right mind would consent to letting another adult hit their child? If the only way an adult knows to control a child is by hitting him or her, that is the adult's problem, not the child's. I've worked in classrooms and cared for many kids beside my own; never once have I felt the need to resort to physical punishment.

    February 19, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. Me

    Wake up People!

    Where is your proof that spanking is less effective? Nothing but lies. When parents were allowed to spank children they were far less disrespectful, they understood there were boundaries and consequences to their actions. Compare that to children of today. They're hitting their parents, they have zero respect for elders and many are killing their parents. I think it's time the government mind their own business. If I pop one of my granddaughters on her butt once for running in the street, she'll think twice before doing it the next time. And no I don't condone beating, but a spanking is not the same.
    I agree with you 100%!!! I would like to see this proof they mention as well!

    February 19, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    The most effective spanking that you can give kid begins with five words, "Go get me a switch."

    February 19, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. Lovetta

    I think spanking is fine as long as it don't turn into beating. There's a huge difference. I also know there are a few teachers out there who should not have the right to whip any child. I also feel that those teachers should not be in the position to teach those children. There are more ways to hurt a child than beating them. Some children are humiliated by their teachers; some children are looked over because they don't dress well or use proper language. I could name lots of things that hurt worse than a beating. I'd much rather mine be whipped by a good, loving and caring teacher than ridiculed by someone who doesn't know up from down but ended up with a teaching degree.

    February 19, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Jack M

    Just because parents used to spank children in the old days doesn't make it OK. And there are plenty of children who have been seriously abused by parents using the "discipline" concept to justify their cruelty. Also, why ten slaps, why not 12, or 9? It's just plain ridiculous.

    February 19, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

    Anyone ever get smacked around by a nun? Can you sue a nun in school? Some parents neglect their kids, and try to make up for it by being their pal and suing a teacher when their child does wrong. Maybe the parents need spanking.

    February 19, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. jahmyrr

    If your child doesnt act like a tool, theres no concern of being spanked in the first place. The only people that should be worried about this, are those that dont discipline at home. Of course there is the possibility of a teacher taking advantage of this. However, witnesses should always be required.

    My only issue is the use of an open hand on a childs buttocks. Thats just begging for SA trouble.

    February 19, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Viktor

    First, refusal of service to LGBT community and now permission to spank children? Forget the debates of hit or not be hit, just the mere fact the state even thinks to create such a bill is scary indeed, especially coupled with the LGBT one. OMG. I better leave Kansas.

    February 19, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. citizenUSA

    Ten? who came up with that number? You can't even get out, "I'VE-TOLD-YOU-A-MIL-LION-TIMES-IF YOU-EVER", before you reach 10.

    February 19, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. Tampa Tim

    I am no expert on school behavior, but maybe the parents of a mischievous youth need the spanking instead.

    February 19, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. A traveler

    Is Kansas trying to become the next Florida? Seems like they're making a run towards that (sad) position.

    February 19, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. just asking

    so i wonder if a few spanks on the backside does as much damage to kids as endless exposure to violence on tv, video games, rap music, etc? the backside gets better, but does the brain washing linger their whole lives?

    February 19, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. Chuck

    Lay hands on my child without my consent, and I will see you in court. The South continues to deteriorate at the speed of a greased pig.

    February 19, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Maureen

    This is pretty archaic. No, a teacher or caregiver does not have the right to spank my child or anyone else's. l had hoped that we had all learned and evolved.

    February 19, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. Concerned Educator, Mississippi

    Kudos to this legislator! I was spanked as a child and I'm appreciative to my parents for doing it. I was spanked, not abused. There is a difference. This is precisely why children are more disrespectful, more lazy, no work ethic, and doing things my generation never would have thought of, and I'm just 29. Moreover, I'm sick of hearing this oprah mumbo jumbo about students being traumatized and humiliated. A bunch of bull. Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm. We all know studies can say what we want them to. Not only that, studies that suggest that corporal punishment is harmful sounds great in theory, but I question their practicality. As an educator, on a daily basis, I see children telling adults what they will and will not do, telling their parents what to do, and have no motivation whatsoever to behave accordingly. An old fashion thrashing is just what some of these kids need. Thank you!

    February 19, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Mary Shelson

    Rolling back to coperal punishment in schools is archaic and pretty ridiculous. How about deminishing the feel good tactics that dont work and replacing them with actual educational consequence like detentions and work details. Hold a child genuinely accountable and spanking (demeaning and violent) is not necessary.

    February 19, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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