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Do “Parental Rights” Include Restraining and Spanking Children?

Do “Parental Rights” Include Restraining and Spanking Children?

How hard should you be allowed to hit your child, and who else should be allowed to hit your child on your behalf? The state of Kansas nearly debated those questions due to a proposed bill that would have extended the rules on spanking a child to allow parents to be more forceful as well as grant the authority to spank to other adults in that child’s day to day life. The bizarre bill was being offered out of concern that current law didn’t allow parents the “authority” to discipline their children fully.

HB 2699 addressed battery ranging from domestic violence to child abuse. The bill made corporal punishment, which was already legal in schools, more clearly defined, calling it “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.” As long as an adult had “written authority from a parent to use corporal punishment,” than an adult is exempt from punishment for restraining and spanking a child as well, even if, as the bill states, the restraint is done so forcefully that it leaves marks. That authority would even be extended to being able to physically restrain and administer 10 spankings to a person 18 years or older, as long as that person is still in the school system, according to the bill.

Bill sponsor Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, proposed the bill as a means of clarifying what is or isn’t allowed when it comes to corporal punishment of children and teens, stating that the new definitions will give more “freedom” to families to parent as they see fit. According to the Wichita Eagle, Finney believed the bill “attempts to define corporal punishment, restore parental rights and protect parents who spank their children from being charged with child abuse.”

“Corporal punishment is already allowed by law in Kansas,” Finney told the paper. “It’s just trying to get a definition, because what’s happening is our kids and some of our law-abiding parents are entering into DCF (the Department of Children and Families) and law enforcement custody when it could have been avoided. It could be a small amount of a bruise (and) a parent could still be charged with child abuse when it wasn’t anything serious.”

Even if that were the case, was it really necessary to extend protection to the forceful physical restraint of students at schools and daycare centers? Regardless of how a person feels about allowing a parent to physically discipline a child, the idea of allowing teachers, school administrators or daycare providers to spank children, much less physically restrain them so forcefully that marks or bruises could be left on the skin, should leave most people aghast.

“We’re not allowed to hit a prisoner. We do not hit in the military,” Deborah Sendek, program director of the Center for Effective Discipline said about the nearly 20 states that continue to allow corporal punishment in schools. “Why do we give prisoners more protection than we give our schoolchildren?”

Apparently the legislature agreed. Finney’s bill died in a committee meeting without receiving a hearing, leaving corporal punishment rules as they already were allowable, but at least with the fail safe that when a child shows up with unexpected bruising, the situation should have some expectation of being investigated to ensure that he or she is not being physically abused.

Now, if only Kansas would repeal allowing all corporal punishment in schools all together. Schools should be a safe place for students, not a place of fear.

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284 comments

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2:26PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

Sorry about the double post firefox is give me some problems.

2:24PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

Correction: They told me they didn’t know of emancipation per se, but she had an Iraqi vet who was allowed to vote at 17.

2:24PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

Correction: They told me they didn’t know of emancipation per se, but she had an Iraqi vet who was allowed to vote at 17.

2:22PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

Yes I did. Their response was they knew nothing about the law and if I could vote at 16 then I must have a court order [I did]. They told me they had didn’t know of emancipation per se, but she had an Iraqi vet who was allowed to vote at 17. When I told her my circumstance [and other emancipation cases] they didn’t doubt it, but explained they weren’t attorneys nor did they give legal advice, to direct any questions to the SOS.

9:56AM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

Did you tell them you voted in Texas at age 16?

9:08AM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

I guess you might not have considered that the alacrity of my responses may be because I didn’t need to go hunting for excuses not to answer questions.

I called them too. When someone calls ask about emancipation and Sec. 31.001- 31.007 of the TX family code. Their response was they have no knowledge of the law and cannot give legal advice. This question would have to be addressed to the SOS.

I gave you the proof: the law. Because you don’t agree with my statements and don’t wish to answer questions you go to great lengths to try to prove me wrong in one regard. Somehow believing that if you prove me wrong in one you have disproven the other points. It doesn’t work like that. You must address each and every point.

Actually you don’t realize you have answered them for me. They frighten you so much you are willing to go to extreme lengths to avoid answering them.

11:18PM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

It must be fairly important to you, too, judging by how quick you replied.

Clearly, one of us is lying. To the extent anybody reading this thread cares, I invite them to contact the Elections Division of the Texas Secretary of State's office during normal business hours M-F at 1-800-252-VOTE to learn for themselves how plausible your claim is.

Then again, if you really have documentation or you or others being eligible to vote in Texas before their 18th birthday, by all means share it. Failing that, you can't expect me to feel answerable to someone so apparently fraudulent.

7:34AM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

Now I know you are lying. I could show you my birth certificate and first voter’s registration card. I voted at 16. I have also witness just in the recent past individuals being emancipated at 16 and getting their voters registration. It hasn’t changed.

I noticed you focused on this one part and avoided those questions. Why is it so important to you?

6:51AM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

Well, I just got off the phone with the Elections Division of the Texas Secretary of State's office. They told me that they make no exceptions whatsoever for the 18-year minimum voting age, not even for emancipated minors (although you can register to vote if you are no more than two months shy of your 18th birthday).

3:27PM PST on Mar 6, 2014

“OK, but has anyone actually been CHARGED BY POLICE OR PROSECUTORS with sexual assault for taking away toys or imposing early bedtime?”
Yes I have seen them. And it reminds me very much of the Ohio case. A young DA charges a parent with “psychological abuse” for disciplining the child in a responsible way. The child just gets upset and wants to lash out.

That’s why I know there should be limits in the law: because if all discipline is defined as abuse we’ll see more and more cases like these.

We need to use the available laws and common sense to protect children, teach parents better skills and learn how to let parent’s be parents.

I highly doubt if you will answer those questions.

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