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Kansas bill would permit spanking that leaves bruises on children

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Spare the rod, spoil the child? A Kansas lawmaker is proposing a bill that would allow teachers, caregivers and parents to spank children hard enough to leave marks and bruises.

According to a Feb. 18 report issued by ABC, Kansas State Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, says she will introduce a bill that would allow teachers, caregivers and parents to deliver up to 10 strikes of the open hand, and that it would be permissible for those blows to leave redness and/or bruising.

The bill would allow parents to give permission to others (e.g. teachers and caregivers) to spank their children.

The proposed legislation would continue the current ban in Kansas on hitting a child with fists, or with a belt or switch.

Rep. Finney says she wants to restore parental rights and improve discipline. However, advocates for children and others believe the proposed legislation is misguided. Child abuse expert and pediatric nurse practitioner Amy Terreros said:

"Twenty, 30 years ago, we didn't sit in car seats, and we do now. So maybe they did spank or were spanked as a child, but now we have research that shows it is less effective than time out. It tends to lead to more aggressive behavior with a child."

According to the Center for Effective Discipline, an anti-corporal punishment group, spanking perpetuates a cycle of child abuse, and teaches children to respond with physical force when angry. It also notes that "schools are the only institutions in America in which striking another person is legally sanctioned. It is not allowed in prisons, in the military or in mental hospitals.”

CSM reports thirty-one states have banned corporal punishment in public schools.

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