In the wake of it's "Religious Liberty" Bill (a call for legal discrimination not unlike the "Whites Only" drinking fountains of the not-so-distant past) being introduced and thankfully shot-down before moving forward, now comes House Bill Number 2699 by the Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice. Essentially, State Representative Gail Finney (D) would like to protect a wide range of people, including teachers and caregivers, should they choose to beat children under their care. She's back-peddling a bit at this point, issuing a statement to "clarify" that she's seeking to "expressly define corporal punishment," and not to "legalize child abuse in Kansas."
Except that it does seek to legalize child abuse in Kansas.
From the Bill, Section I (e):
"'Corporal punishment' means 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. As used in this subsection "child" includes a person over the age of 18 who is enrolled in high school."
"Ten forceful applications?" I'm not gonna hide the fact that I've been in a fight or two in my lifetime, and if you reach "ten" of these "applications" in a row, you're probably well into "wailing" stage - that point of rage where you'll just keep going with one goal, and one goal only: destroy your enemy. But kids shouldn't be the enemy, and neither should the grownups.
Finney is both a parent and a grandparent. This makes me question how she's handled parenting issues over the years. How many "red marks" and "bruises" has she inflicted upon the children in her care during the course of her lifetime? Is this sort of legal protection supposed to put her own mind at ease for the pain that she personally inflicted upon kids - to "define" that it was legally ok? In my opinion, what she's doing is dangerously close to those religious wackos that have been peddling that TO TRAIN UP A CHILD book that has been linked to the deaths of several children.
Being a parent is not easy... and sometimes it's even hard. As a Dad raising two small girls, I know all-to-well how "out-of-line" they can get, and it's frustrating as hell. Sometimes, they just don't listen. Calm but firm reinforcement doesn't work... and neither does the "naughty spot" (time out). But would hitting them really accomplish anything other than creating an environment of fear coupled with showing them that aggressive behavior is an acceptable response? I don't think so, and there's plenty of experts that would agree. But even I would be lying if I didn't say the temptation was there at (very extreme) times... but that's on me, as a grownup, to control my own actions and lead by example. We try to teach the kids "kind hands," and then there's this.
When I was a kid, if we got really out-of-line, my Mom would bust out the infamous "wooden spoon." I don't fault her for this, as I imagine her parents - my grandparents (and very good people) - probably did the same, and with eight kids, I can only imagine their frustration at times. But those were vastly different times, and it was before society as a whole had the collective knowledge that it holds now. I thought the wooden spoon was funny, and my Mom can even attest to a time or two where I broke the wooden spoon and laughed my little ass off. I'd figured out that if I braced for a strike using the bony part of my forearm, the spoon would break in half almost instantly. And I thought it was hilarious, all while making my Mom even more irritated. Did the spoon really accomplish anything? Probably not, but I have a good anecdote to use here.
Kansas House Bill 2699 (read the doc in it's entirety here) is nothing but an 11-page excuse for the inexcusable. As parents and leaders, we need to work to find solutions to problems without creating more problems in the process. This just spins the clock back to more primitive times... and with violence comes more violence. Add into this some points brought up in discussion on my Facebook Page this morning (like the fact that no provisions are here for special needs children), and the potential for bad news just gets worse.
This Country is screwed up, and while I hold optimism that the State of Kansas won't actually pass this into law, let me tell you something:
Ingrained in my genetic coding is another primitive instinct, but an important one - a Father's duty to protect and defend his own family... regardless of nonsense "laws" that aren't worth the paper that they're printed on - a duty to defend "right" in a world of "wrong." If anyone were to touch one of my daughters, believe me when I tell you that whoever did it will feel the power of my fist (an example pictured left on the cover of PANTERA's VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER - touch my kids, that's you). Violence leads to more violence. And while there might be "laws" to "punish" me for retaliation, those laws will never "protect" them for laying a hand on my children.
In the rare event that the State of Kansas is actually foolish enough to let this pass, I urge my friends in Kansas - the parents of Kansas - to do what you have to do. If someone lays a hand on your child...
Show no mercy.
Violence leads to more violence. Is this really where we're headed in 2014?
I need to run for office here in Illinois...