I kept thinking I wanted to post something today, but couldn’t think of what. Then I read the Daily News. Today’s issue has an article about a proposed bill that would make spanking your child a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine up to $1,000, although a legal expert advising the proposal’s author said first-time offenders likely only would have to attend parenting classes. The bill, which is still being drafted, will be written broadly to prohibit “any striking of a child, any corporal punishment, smacking, hitting, punching, any of that,” and supposedly only applies to 4 and under.
I’m not arguing in favor of beating a child, but I do think this proposal goes way too far. As any parent will tell you, a single (and I emphasize that word, single) potch-on-the-tush does a wonderful job of cutting through a tantrum that has become a scream cycle, and often makes a child reasonable. I’m not talking beating here, or shaking to illness, or anything like that. A single potch. This proposal goes too far.
According to the article, beyond the debate among child psychologists – many of whom believe limited spanking can be effective – the bill faces questions over how practical it is to enforce. Some legislators oppose what they consider “nanny government.” Parents interviewed tended to agree. As for the Governator, he was open-minded about the bill Thursday, although he hinted about concerns about the bill’s enforceability, and he also noted that, growing up in Austria, he “got smacked about everything,” but when it comes to disciplining his four children he and wife Maria Shriver “never” resort to spanking. Robert Larzelere, who has studied child discipline for 30 years, said his research shows spanking is fine, as long as it’s used sparingly and doesn’t escalate to abuse.
It should be noted that the author of the bill, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, she does not have children and says she was not slapped as a child. But she does have a cat named Snoop, which her veterinarian told her never to hit. “And if you never hit a cat,” Lieber said, “you should never hit a kid.”
So what do you think?