In 2014, a Kansas state legislator proposed a bill that would allow parents, teachers, and other caregivers to legally spank a wayward child hard enough to leave marks and bruises on their skin.
The bill—dubbed the “Spanking Bill”—was put forward by Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita. According to Finney, the bill would still outlaw hitting a child with a closed fist, implement such as a belt or wooden spoon, or beating and punching children. Instead, she told the Wichita Eagle, the bill is designed to clearly define corporal punishment. It allows “up to 10 forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child…acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result.”
The bill, House Bill 2699, would also allow parents to give permission to caregivers such as teachers and babysitters to spank their children.
“What’s happening is there are some children that are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents,” Finney told her hometown paper. “They’re not minding school personnel.”
The bill is surprising because it goes against a national trend away from all forms corporal punishment, including spanking. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a “growing body” of research is showing the negative side effects of spanking. The APA cites a number of studies showing that spanking leads to “increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children.” Nevertheless, despite decreased use of spanking over the past few decades, surveys still show that up to two-thirds of parents approve of the use of physical punishment for children.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- Kansas House Bill 2699, also known as the “spanking bill,” is designed to clearly define corporal punishment.
- Rep. Gail Finney said it’s for children that don’t mind their parents or school personnel.
- Despite a decrease in spanking over the years, most parents still approve of physical punishment.