Spanking. It's one of the most divisive issues in the world of parenting. To some, it's abuse. To others, it's the best way to keep a naughty child in line. Personally, my husband and I don't spank our child, but I've always thought it's a personal choice each family has to make. Those who fall in the anti-spanking camp won't like a new law politicians are trying to pass in Kansas. Lawmakers want to legalize harder spanking -- the kind that leaves red marks and bruises.
Right now, child protection laws in the state only allow spankings that don't leave marks. Democratic State Rep Gail Finney has proposed a bill that would legalize 10 types of hand spankings and smacks to use while punishing your child. Parents can also give permission to others to spank their children.
This is a bit extreme, if you ask me. I can't understand why a parent would want to punish their children in a manner that would leave them black and blue. The law does have some safeguards, however. You wouldn't be able to strike a child with a fist, in the head, or with a belt or switch. Still, something that legally protects a parent who leaves bruises on a child just seems so brutal.
It forces the question, what constitutes a spanking and what defines abuse? In my mind, it is those very marks that mean a parent had crossed a line. I would be horrified if one of my son's playmates came over with bruises from a spanking. On the other side, rules about what you can and cannot do may help curtail those parents who already take corporal punishment too far. Still, it's awful to think there will be a law on the books condoning giving your kids bruises and welts.
Finney's goal, however, is a noble one. A mother herself, she hopes the new laws will help restore discipline in families. I can't deny that children are out of control these days -- some children, that is. But does more violent punishment get them in line? Sure, for some, this will work. For others, this may teach them that physical brutality is an appropriate way to solve your problems. That could result in worse behavioral issues.
The bill is up for debate next week and it will be interesting to see how it turns out.
Do you think a bill like this is a good thing for parents and kids?