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OK, I’m just going to admit it: I’ve spanked my kids. I’ve spanked them for misbehaving. I’ve spanked them for talking back. I’ve spanked them—yes, it is true—for hitting each other.
I spanked because, on occasion, my parents spanked me, and I grew up OK. I spanked, mainly, because at that moment when my hand flew out and whapped their bottoms, my parental toolbox was empty and I needed to do something to show I meant business.
Happily, I’ve gotten many new tools in that box of mine. It’s now usually full, on a regular basis. And I don’t spank them anymore.
So, as a reformed spanker, I suppose I sat up and took extra notice at this news: A Kansas lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow Kansas parents, caregivers or school officials to hit children hard enough to leave redness or bruising. Kansas House Bill 2699 would permit up to 10 open-handed slaps, “acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result.”
Current Kansas law already permits spanking that does not leave marks. But that’s not enough for state Representative Gail Finney, who is proposing the new law.
Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, says she wants to restore parental rights and shore up discipline. “What’s happening is there are some children that are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents, they’re not minding school personnel,” Finney said.
Is violence what we’re trying to teach our young people?
This is not news. There are always defiant children who tick off their parents and teachers. Hitting those children, particularly hard enough to leave a mark, will not calm those kids down. It will not address the reasons they are not listening, or why they are acting inappropriately.
Of course, it will teach them a lesson. Actually, it will teach them two lessons:
1. If you are angry and want attention, act up and you will get it. It may hurt, but you will not be ignored.
2. If you are angry but you don’t want to get hurt, at least not by an adult, best direct that anger elsewhere.
The proposed law, by the way, would continue to ban hitting a child with fists, in the head or body or with a belt or switch.
Well, there’s some relief.
Finney’s legislation comes as Kansas rides a cresting wave of conservative legislation. The state has recently passed some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Gun rights are expanding, welfare funding is shrinking and state income taxes have been slashed. Funding for public schools has reached such critically low levels that parents are suing the state. The lawsuit, now before the Kansas Supreme Court, demands that per-pupil spending be increased to levels “suitable” to educate all students under standards set by the state’s own constitution.
To this state of affairs, Finney would like to add painful spanking. Now teachers—who, if the lawsuit is to be believed, are underfunded and overwhelmed by ballooning class sizes—may soon have the right to smack a kid, hard, in an attempt to restore order.
Sounds violent to me. Is violence what we’re trying to teach our young people?
I gave up spanking years ago. I still get angry, but now we talk, and our lives are much calmer. I suggest Finney try some of the same.