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Ca: A Proposal to Ban Spanking Sparks Debate

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by E.L., Jan 21, 2007.

  1. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member


    A Proposal to Ban Spanking Sparks Debate </NYT_HEADLINE><SCRIPT language=JavaScript type=text/JavaScript>function getSharePasskey() { return 'ex=157680000&en=581a9bcfa8e69435&ei=5124';}</SCRIPT><SCRIPT language=JavaScript type=text/JavaScript>function getShareURL() { return encodeURIComponent('http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/us/21spank.html');}function getShareHeadline() { return encodeURIComponent('A Proposal to Ban Spanking Sparks Debate');}function getShareDescription() { return encodeURIComponent('A California assemblywoman plans to submit a bill that calls for up to a year in jail for parents who spank young children.');}function getShareKeywords() { return encodeURIComponent('Law and Legislation,Children and Youth,California,Spanking,Lieber, Sally J');}function getShareSection() { return encodeURIComponent('us');}function getShareSectionDisplay() { return encodeURIComponent('');}function getShareByline() { return encodeURIComponent('By JENNIFER STEINHAUER');}function getSharePubdate() { return encodeURIComponent('January 21, 2007');}</SCRIPT>
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    <NYT_BYLINE type=" " version="1.0">By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
    </NYT_BYLINE>Published: January 21, 2007
    <!--NYT_INLINE_IMAGE_POSITION1 --><NYT_TEXT>LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20 — As a general rule, legislators tend to begin their attack on bills once they have actually been written. But not much proposed legislation involves the backsides of children.
    Skip to next paragraph [​IMG] Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press
    State Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber of California plans to introduce a bill to ban spanking.

    A Democratic assemblywoman from Mountain View says she will submit a bill next week — once it is officially drafted — proposing that California become the first state in the nation to make spanking of children 3 years old and under a misdemeanor. Penalties could include child-rearing classes for offenders to one year in jail.
    Just the mention of the bill has become a minor statewide perturbation, sparking denouncements from many Republican lawmakers (the State Senate minority leader, Dick Ackerman, declared, “I’m trying to pick a word other than crazy, let me see, not well thought out.”), heated debates among parents (“A bill should be passed to allow other parents to smack the parents of undisciplined children,” wrote one Internet poster) and some self-reflection on behalf of the governor, whose proclivity for calling others girly men has been replaced of late with dialoguing about his feelings.
    In an interview with The San Jose Mercury News, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that as a child he “got smacked about everything. That was the way Austria worked.”
    The governor said that when disciplining his four children, he and his wife, Maria Shriver, declined to spank. “I think any time we try to pass laws that say you’ve got to protect the kids, it’s, in general, always good,” he added.
    The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber, said that her office had been inundated with calls since word of the proposed bill — which she will probably introduce next week — surfaced. The majority of the calls, she conceded, were against such legislation, which she said she found puzzling, since it covers only the state’s youngest and most vulnerable children.
    “I have to question why our society holds so tightly to physical discipline among the very young,” said Ms. Lieber, who does not have children. “We’re very addicted to violence.” She said that the rejection of a bill that would remove the latitude of parents to physically discipline the smallest of children was analogous to protests against the protection of women of domestic abuse.
    The speaker of the assembly’s office said it could not comment without reading an actual bill.
    Roughly 15 countries have laws banning corporal punishment, and numerous states, including California, forbid spanking in schools. Proponents of such laws argue that spanking — especially for young children, who cannot connect the punishment to the crime — is ineffective at best, and cruel at worst. Opponents of this type of law argue that parents, not the state, should be the arbiter of how children are disciplined at home.
    “California has garnered a reputation over the years of supporting these extreme legislative measures,” said Bill Maze, a Republican assemblyman from the Central Valley. “Disciplinary action is up to the parents. This is a wrongheaded measure, and there is zero support among the Republicans I have talked to.”
    When it was pointed out to Mr. Maze that the Republican governor had shown some support for the measure, citing his own upbringing, Mr. Maze countered, “The only thing I can say about him is that I guess he needed some discipline, otherwise he wouldn’t have gotten where he is today.”
    Ms. Lieber appears undaunted by the criticism of her proposal. “Right now the law is very unclear,” she said, noting that jurors are specifically instructed to take into account that California gives parents discretion on punishment that is not outright abuse. “It makes a lot of sense to me to set a very bright line in this area.”
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