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Chair: No committee hearing on spanking bill

By Sia Nyorkor
Published On: Feb 17 2014 04:51:45 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 18 2014 06:58:08 PM CST
TOPEKA, Kan. -

A Kansas lawmaker is proposing a bill that would allow teachers, caregivers and parents to spank children hard enough to leave marks.

Opponents of the bill say they are not aware of other states with laws like this.

"There are so many important issues that should be taken care of. It's sad to me that this is something that would occupy legislators time," said Diana Schunn with Sedgwick County's Child Advocacy Center.

It would continue to ban hitting a child with fists, in the head or body, or with a belt or switch.

Rep. John Rubin told Eyewitness News Tuesday night that he will not schedule a committee hearing on the bill. He said he has received an overwhelming response on the issue, mostly in opposition. 

"The bill is essentially dead," he said.

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School teachers and caregivers could soon have more power to spank children, if a bill makes it out of the Kansas legislature.

Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, introduced the bill via McPherson Deputy County Attorney Britt Colle.  

The bill was not submitted on behalf of the McPherson County Attorney's Office.

"This bill basically defines a spanking along with necessary reasonable physical restraint that goes with discipline, all of which has always been legal," Colle said. "This bill clarifies what parents can and cannot do. By defining what is legal, it also defines what is not."

KCTV reports it would expand the current law, which allows spanking without leaving marks. If Finney's bill passes, it would allow up to 10 strikes of the hand and smacks hard enough to leave redness and bruising.

The proposed bill suggests lightening the spanking laws, allowing parents or anyone given permission by a parent, to spank hard enough to leave redness or bruising.

Colle said the bill makes it clear that hitting a child with fists, hitting a child in the head or body, or hitting a child with a belt or switch is not legal discipline and may be considered battery or abuse.

Kansas proponents of the bill say children are losing respect for authority and that parents need to be able to discipline without fear. But 30 other states disagree, and they've banned corporal punishment altogether.

The bill has not been brought up for a vote in the corrections and juvenile justice oversight committee.

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