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California plan would criminalize spanking

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 02/23/2007 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled



California Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Sally Lieber (California Assembly)

A leading state lawmaker in California has introduced a proposal that would classify parents who place a careful swat on the bottom of their little one, enthralled in the pursuit of excitement during the “terrible twos,” the same as a child abuse felon who beats a baby with an electrical cord.

Calling it “a bill to clarify and strengthen California law protecting children, especially infants and toddlers,” the sponsor, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber said “good parents have no reason for concern as a result of this legislation…”

Officials with the pro-family Campaign for Children and Families, however, said that may be an assumption by Lieber, a Democrat from Mountain View, but it won’t be fact if AB755 becomes law.

It would make a criminal of any mother or father who would use a switch to give their little one a paddling because of their behavior, CCF officials said.

In addition, the plan would allow a judge to reach the same conclusion about spanking with an open hand, because “nowhere does the bill state that spanking by hand will continue to be permitted.”

Randy Thomasson, the president of the CCF, a California-based pro-family group, said it would just be a matter of time before moms and dads would be arrested and cuffed for trying to discipline a youngster.

“We are calling upon California voters to rise up and demand that the government keep its big nose out of the family home,” he said. “Lawmakers should focus on protecting children from sexual predators and real abusers, instead of targeting good, loving parents who implement healthy, occasionally spanking as part of their children’s upbringing.

“Some parents spank, and some parents don’t. AB755 threatens the right of parents who spank with an open hand, and openly criminalizes good parents, mostly mothers, who use a little stick or switch or paddle to correct willful, defiant misbehavior of their own children,” he said.

The bill lumps parental discipline into the same class as child abuse. It creates new precedent by dictating that: “if the infliction of physical pain or mental suffering occurred as a result of any of the following, then there is a rebuttable presumption that the physical pain or mental suffering is unjustifiable…”

It then lists the use of anything including “but not limited to” a stick, rod or switch as criminal. It adds clearly abusive instruments such as an electrical cord, extension cord, to the same classification.

A CCF analysis confirmed that there remains “no clear right to hand-spank,” because any judge could determine hand-spanking is “unjustifiable” and it would be illegal.

Mothers, especially, are at risk, CCF noted. “Due to less strength in their upper torso on average, responsible mothers who occasionally spank commonly use a spanking stick, switch or paddle, instead of their bare hand, to correct their defiant child’s misbehavior. AB755 would require the arrest and prosecution of all parents who include these traditional methods of correcting misbehavior…”

The organization said it’s clear that child abuse needs to be prevented. But it should be handled separately. “Legitimate child abuse provisions in this bill, such as ‘vigorous shaking of a child under the age of three,’ deserve to be in another bill and completely separated from spanking,” the group said.

“Does occasional spanking of rebellious children correct them and help to shape them to be law-abiding adults who respect authority, or does it transform them into violent criminals?” asked Thomasson. “The proof is in the pudding. Millions of Americans who were appropriately spanked will tell you they needed to be spanked. The greatest generation, those who fought World War II, well remembers the switch and the paddle. They were a very well-behaved, law-abiding generation.”

“The government simply has no right to invade the privacy of the home and replace fathers and mothers, who have the God-given responsibility to raise their own children,” Thomasson said.

The proposal had been the subject of discussion already across the state. The Contra Costa Times in an editorial said the bill, “is completely unenforceable. Are we to expect a 2-year-old to dial 911 and report a parent for swatting him or her on the behind?”

The editorial took a straightforward shot at the issue.

“With all of the pressing problems facing our state, what issue has the knickers of our esteemed lawmakers in such a twist? What burning concern has the ponderous pundits on the cable news shows frothing at the mouth?

“Global warming? Plunging real estate values? Good-paying jobs being shipped off to India every time you turn around? Maybe the governor’s new health care proposal?

“None of the above.

“The latest meaningless, national distraction, is a silly bill proposed by Assembly Pro Tem Speaker Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, that would make it a crime to spank any child 3 years old or younger.”

The editorial’s suggestion? “Get real.”

Earlier, Karen England, of the Capitol Resource Institute, told WND, “If they want to protect children, protect them from predators.”

England said there already are laws in place to be used when someone steps over the line from disciplining to hitting.

Brad Dacus, of the Pacific Justice Institute, called it yet another effort to expand the reach of government.

“Even without this proposed new law, California gives such wide latitude to Child Protective Services that decent parents often get falsely charged with child abuse,” Dacus said. “How much more if the state tries to outlaw all corporal punishment on young children?”

California’s legislature in the last session turned in an aggressive effort at using the power of the state to mandate families’ behavior. Lawmakers in that session approved a series of “sexual indoctrination” bills that failed only because of gubernatorial vetoes.

The plans would have required the state Board of Education to increase sensitivity to so-called “discrimination” by providing unlimited discretion for officials to withhold state funding from schools considered out of “compliance” with those requirements.

A second plan would have integrated “tolerance training” into history and social science curriculums and started a pilot program to force a “new definition” of tolerance on students. That would require them to not only accept homosexuality but advocate for that.

The third part of the plan would have censored any school teaching materials or activities from “reflecting adversely” upon homosexuals, bisexuals or transgenders.



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