Kansas spanking laws
Child sitting in corner | Sheknows.com

Corporal punishment is extremely controversial, but one Kansas lawmaker aims to make spanking that is hard enough to leave bruises legal — what some would call child abuse. Has she gone too far?

Spanking with bruises “OK” if bill passes

In a move aimed to increase parental authority, Kansas has introduced a bill that would give parents — and anyone they give permission to, such as babysitters or teachers — the legal right to spank their children hard enough to leave bruises and red marks. While it also outlines physical punishment that would be against the law, reactions are massively divided amongst parents.

Defining discipline

Corporal punishment in the public school setting has been banned in 31 states (and interestingly enough, many European countries have banned it at home as well as at school), but Kansas is not one of them. Fresh on the heels of a highly controversial proposed law that would allow legal discrimination based on religious views (that is now floundering with no hope to see the light of day), Kansas is again in the spotlight with another questionable proposed law.

"Red marks and bruises will be allowed, other forms of physical punishment will not be."

Current laws in Kansas allow spanking that doesn’t leave marks or bruises, but a bill authored by Kansas House member Gail Finney, D-Wichita will lighten those laws — and will also move to define non-legal physical punishment as well. While spanking that does leave red marks and bruises will be allowed, other forms of physical punishment will not be, such as hitting a child with fists or hitting a child in the head or body. Using a belt or a switch would also be deemed illegal and could result in abuse or battery charges — so in a way, it does give kids a measure of protection. But is it completely off the mark?

A necessary step

Backers of the bill say that this will help increase parental authority, as well as the authority of those who are also charged with caring for or looking after your child. Parents in favor of the bill cite the days when they were children and were strapped or spanked, whether it be by a teacher or a parent, and how that experience straightened them out. “Most of the people saying no to spanking their children are going to wind up with bratty, no manner having, disrespectful kids who will become part of the ongoing problem of our youth today,” writes a user on KCTV5’s Facebook page. “Don't abuse them, but a good whack will sure straighten your mouth and attitude up real quick.”

Not acceptable

Others question the need to expand a bill that already allows spanking. “I do not agree that allowing parents to spank harder is going to teach children respect for authority,” says Jenn, mom of one. “There are many ways to teach a child respect, and making children fear their parents or trusted caregivers is not the way to do it. If you can't beat an adult to the point of bruising, then you shouldn't be able to do the same to a child.”

There seems to be a large gap between the two schools of thought, with some tending to have a “kids these days” mentality and others who often choose to discipline in a gentler manner who feel this move is akin to legalizing child abuse. Age and generation often have a lot to do with it, but the divide is definitely deep and wide, and Kansas again waits in the public eye as the debate rages on.

More on discipline

Positive discipline: Why time-outs don't work
Should a parent discipline other people's children?
Mom vs. Dad: The discipline debate

Photo credit: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images


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Comments on "Kansas pushing to make child abuse legal"

commonsenseisuncommon March 31, 2014 | 4:41 AM

how about - in place of allowing parents to beat their children - we have mandatory parenting classes for first time parents to just help them get through the basics? children are influenced by the world around them if you need to hit your kid to get them in line then you need to stop and look at what it is that you are doing or not doing that is making them behave that way. they are mirrors reflecting the world and people around them - tabula rasa - YOU as a parent fill in the blanks, so what are you writing into your kids today?

Jazzy March 30, 2014 | 5:22 AM

I am so tiered of people assuming its either spanking a child or having a wild rude disobedient child. Neither I or my husband have ever struck our daughter but she is smart, kind, and well behaved. We get compliments on her behavior from teachers, friends parents and even strangers. Yes she threw a fit maybe twice in her life she was removed from the situation lost a privilege and didn't get what she was throwing a fit over learning it wasn't worth it to try. Lazy parents spank because they don't want to try other things.

Lance Williams March 29, 2014 | 2:12 AM

Grossly misleading headline (it is a senator, not the state, that is proposing this), but yes, I agree that the legislation SHOULD NOT pass.

Leo March 27, 2014 | 3:48 AM

Poorly worded, misleading headline, poorly written and confusing article, leading to a confused discussion. ...AS for spanking, never strike a child in anger, that only justifies their angry response. If you are so pissed you want to grab him by the hair and shake him like a pit-bull with a rag doll, send him to his room while you sort out your emotions vs the facts of the situation. We raised 4, and I doubt I ever spanked one of them without leaving a red mark approximately the size and shape of my open hand, so I don't even know ehat that part of the discussion is about.

blister it March 27, 2014 | 3:21 AM

the current 30 yr olds and younger would be alot more respectful had they had both parents at home,and someone put a boot up their --- when they acted up,public or privet.

JordanE. March 27, 2014 | 2:28 AM

my father whipped me plenty of times with paddles belts whatever and left bruises and I have 0 respect for him. And I continued to do what I wanted!whipping only helps you get out anger.

Karen McElhaney March 26, 2014 | 12:33 AM

I was spanked as a child and it didn't make me go out and do bad things. But there is a difference between spanking and leaving bruises. I believe bruising falls under the abuse category!!!!

Christina K. March 25, 2014 | 1:36 AM

Also people talking about how bad the world is now aren't taking into account the fact that everything negative is televised and reported now as opposed to 50 years ago when the technology to do so was unavailable. The world isn't worse we're just seeing it all and the news capitalizes on the negative. Crime rates are actually down, believe it or not.

Christina K. March 25, 2014 | 1:24 AM

Yes, beat your children more and then wonder why they think it's okay to hit people as adults. The only people who need to use physical punishment as discipline are those who are too stupid or impatient to do anything else. I was "whooped" as a child and you know what it did? It made me get better at not getting caught. Good luck.

Lisa T March 24, 2014 | 10:45 PM

I was whipped with a razor strap by my Dad and he was definitely out of control. It made me HATE him. I thought " if this is love, I don't want love". I still cringe at the sight of a razor strap and I'm 53 years old.

Generation X March 23, 2014 | 12:38 AM

I was spanked as a child. My parents and grandparents also spanked. After generation X, kids grew up feeling and being treated as though they are entitled to do whatever they want. Funny thing is, from generation X and before, you hardly heard about mass shootings. Kids respected their elders. They realized that life isn’t fair and they would need to work hard if they wanted to get ahead in life. If you talked back to your parents or if you were grounded, then you went to your room and stayed. Today they call the police and lie that their parents beat them so they will be arrested. Once the parents are away, the kid is able to go out and play.

Jeni March 21, 2014 | 11:20 PM

It's funny, reading all of these comments. I was spanked as a child and I grew up to be extremely respectful and very well mannered. Today's generation is entitled self righteous brats who probably needed a good ass whoopin when they were little to teach them a little respect. This is definitely the problem with the world today. Parents aren't allowed to discipline their kids because everyone has an opinion about everything and if it's not up to their standards they have to stick their nose in and report them to CPS. It's time to take back control of your kids cause I sure don't want to be out in public while your kid is throwing an epic tantrum and hearing mommy say, "Oh sweetie you shouldn't act like that" Rant.. over...

Herald Johnson March 21, 2014 | 12:50 AM

To Make abuse of a child, in any way, is an insult to real caring parents. I raised a son alone and never spanked him nor did I even come close to doing so. Loving communication in the parents body language and verbally obtains a child's understanding especially when a parent simply takes away a privilege as needed.

Bunny FooFoo March 19, 2014 | 12:48 AM

Less violence in society when people used a razor strap on their kids in the early 1900's than there is now. Stats show almost all serial killers have indulgent (lazy) mothers. (father's frequently not being involved) HUGE difference between spanking and abuse. But HEY - it got Monica's dishonest headline some clicks didn't it? Most kids without discipline are monsters and NO ONE in your realm of friends wants to see them. Without this law the abusers will still abuse. They could care less about laws. Two entirely different issues Monica. Dont appreciate your dishonesty for my click.

Stephanie Summers March 18, 2014 | 11:10 PM

This is disgusting. I have four children 18-3 and I've never had to spark any of them hard enough to leave a red mark or bruising. Hitting does not teach respect. It teaches anger and contempt. Want kids to learn to control themselves? Start by controlling yourself and your temoer/actions. Teach them proper behavior. I'm a little embarrassed to say I'm from Kansas after reading this article.

Never_Ever March 18, 2014 | 10:17 PM

What is wrong with Kansas?

Kathleen March 18, 2014 | 12:23 AM

I believe this is right, but parents must know how to discipline in love. The spanking isn't the end of the story and should never be done in anger, but in consistency with proper correction. After the child calms down they should be taken aside and talked with. They must realize there are consequences to their actions and that they caused themselves to get a spanking by their own actions. The child should feel loved, protected and understand how they earned their spanking and how not to do it the next time. I raised my five daughters and this worked with them when they were very young. As they get older the discipline changes to fit the situation. If consequences can be given and the children trained while at home in a safe and secure situation, and parents are there to love them unconditionally, teach them, set them on their feet and encourage them at a young age, it will be much easier for them later on. They won't be making as many "adult" mistakes that have lasting life-changing consequences.

Tess March 17, 2014 | 12:13 AM

When you open the door to say spankings are normal you open the door the abuse. A real spanking if ever, ever given should be done with LOVE and SELF-CONTROL. How many pro-spanking people can honestly say they can do both when angry with a child? It is already legal to spank but not abuse. So go figure you would have to be one very good parent! I can tell you from the beatings I got "under the guise of spankings" that an un-controlled parent makes more and more excuses to do so and it winds up psychologically hurting the child!(I was one "spanked" child). Get this, I was a very shy/good child and while everyone knew something was not right no one stepped in to rescue me from a not ok situation!

Kari March 16, 2014 | 10:31 PM

children learn what they live...by hitting them in anger,you are teaching them that violence is acceptable

JoAnne Holmes March 14, 2014 | 11:33 PM

Kids have to deal with violence in other forms. They do not need to experience it at home. Perhaps we need make it legal to spank our state lawmakers. Maybe this will help them to be better, more honest people!!!!

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