Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Proposed Kansas bill allowing spanking that leave marks, bruises is ‘dead’

Current Kansas law allows parents to spank their children, but not to leave marks. Rep. Gail Finney, Dem., proposes that ten strikes with an open hand should be okay, even if it leaves marks or bruises, because it would restore parental rights and improve discipline. The relevant committee head has refused to schedule a hearing.

The proposed bill would not apply just to parents, it would also apply to teachers and caregivers. In addition parents could delegate spanking privileges to anyone they chose.

The bill’s proponents reportedly believe that parents are afraid to discipline their children, and that consequently children are losing respect for them.

According to the person who originally conceived of the bill, McPherson Deputy County Attorney Britt Colle, “This bill basically defines a spanking along with necessary reasonable physical restraint that goes with discipline, all of which has always been legal,” Colle added, “This bill clarifies what parents can and cannot do. By defining what is legal, it also defines what is not.”

Colle emphasizes that the proposed bill does not seek to overturn existing statues that prohibit spanking with anything other than an open hand. Whether the bill defines age-appropriate intensity of spanking, as well acceptable levels of marking and bruising on children of various ages, is unclear.

Chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, Rep. John Rubin, Rep., did not know at first whether the committee should consider the bill or not, but after overwhelming — mostly negative — response, has decided not to schedule a hearing, saying, ”The bill is essentially dead.”

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