How many of you are old enough to remember it being legal for teachers and principles to spank students if they were misbehaving? I am not. But I have heard stories. If you misbehaved, you faced the “ruler,” the “yardstick,” or the “paddle.” Abuse? Not hardly. Parents okayed the discipline and even reinforced it at home. Children grew up respecting authority and fearing them (in the good way of a respectful fear).
How far have we come as a nation? We punish parents who are trying to apply SOME kind of parental discipline and teach their children right from wrong.
Now hear me out. I am not in any way advocation child abuse. That is just wrong and I am adamantly opposed to it. But think about it. Since when it is the government’s responsibility to dictate how a parent will raise their child? As history shows, with the decline of discipline in the homes comes the increase in violence in schools. A coincidental analysis? Some could say so, but I believe they are paralleled.
Richard Arum, director of the SSRC’s program on educational research and a NYU professor of sociology and education, leading expert on education reform and the author of Judging School Discipline: The Crisis of Moral Authority, has commented on the subject of school violence: “We’ve had violent images in our media for a long time. You go back to the ’50s and ’60s, we had westerns and war movies that were very violent. We also had guns readily available in this country in the ’50s and ’60s. These rampage school shootings, however, are a fairly recent phenomenon.
There was one dramatic case in the ’60s in the U.S. at a university in Texas. There was one case I know of in the ’70s. But in the ’80s and ’90s, we started seeing these rampage school shootings occurring not just every year but now almost monthly in this country. So I think what’s really changed in the last two decades is how schools have been affected by legislation and regulations that have made it very difficult for them to deal with troubled kids, both at the college level but also at the elementary and secondary levels.”
While Dr. Arum refers to the legislations placed on schools in the handling of children as the cause of increased violence, I believe it is due to the legislations placed on parents in how they can and cannot raise their children.
So now, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber has introduced a bill that will effectively ban spanking in California. Identical to last year’s highly publicized AB 755, this new AB 2943 will make it a crime to spank a child.
“Last session this same bill received national attention because of its assault on parents rights to discipline their children,” stated Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Family Impact. “We succeeded in stopping the bill because parents were so outraged that an arrogant lawmaker thinks she knows better than parents how to raise their children.”
According to AB 2943, a parent who spanks their child would be placed on probation for a minimum of 4 years, and would be forced to attend a “nonviolent parental education class” and the child would receive a criminal court protective order “protecting the victim from further acts of violence or threats” and “residence exclusion or stay-away conditions.”
AB 2943 declares it illegal to inflict “physical pain or mental suffering.” These ambiguous terms include any suffering cause by instruments including (but not limited to) “a stick, a rod, a switch, an electrical cord, an extension cord, a belt, a broom, or a shoe.” Parents often use wooden spoons or rulers to discipline a disobedient child. Under AB 2943, such discipline would be illegal.
“In the legislature we often hear that schools have become too unsafe and we need ‘sensitivity’ or ‘tolerance’ training,” stated Meredith Turney, legislative liaison for CRFI. “But the reason children are unruly is because they aren’t being disciplined. Taking away the rights of parents to lovingly discipline their children will only worsen the behavior problems that justify indoctrination classes in schools.”
“Current laws already punish abusive parents for shaking or harming children,” explained England. “This bill goes much further and seeks to prohibit parents from raising healthy, responsible children.”
“The legislature’s analysis of this bill last year actually quoted from Bible passages admonishing parents to discipline their children, citing these quotes as justification for banning spanking,” stated Turney. “There is contempt in the legislature for Judeo-Christian values and AB 2943 is the most blatant evidence of this attempt to take away our freedom to raise children according to our beliefs.”
AB 2943 will be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee in the next few weeks.