CNN — A Kansas state lawmaker says a bill she’s introduced that would give school teachers and caregivers expanded rights to spank children is not “intended to legalize child abuse.”
Democratic state representative Gail Finney of Wichita put out a statement Tuesday after media stories about her legislation, which would expand on current Kansas law by allowing teachers and caregivers to spank children up to 10 times, possibly causing redness and bruising.
The legislation specifically would allow for spankings “up to ten forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child and any such reasonable physical force on the child as may be necessary to hold, restrain or control the child in the course of maintaining authority over the child, acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result.”
In her statement, Finney said that “Parental corporal discipline in Kansas, along with 49 other states, has always been permitted. Unfortunately, Kansas has never affirmatively, expressly defined corporal discipline in Kansas statute, leaving the interpretation of that matter to administrative officials in the executive branch, law enforcement personnel, and the judicial branch.”
Finney went on to write that her bill “is intended to (i) provide guidance to state officials in the administrative and judicial branches; (ii) serve as a guideline to parents; and (iii) protect Kansas children from abuse.”
Some in Kansas are voicing opposition to the bill.
“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,” pediatric nurse practitioner Amy Terreros, a child abuse expert at Children’s Mercy Hospital, told CNN affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, Missouri.
Rep. John Rubin, chairman of the Kansas House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, said he isn’t sure the committee will consider the bill, according to KCTV.