Thank God we are not in Kansas anymore!

I’m sorry, Tennessee. I spoke in haste. You are NOT the most ridiculous state in the union, nor the one with the most INSANE laws. Where Tennessee pushed “Turn Away the Gays” back into committee, where it will hopefully die, Arizona has let it go before the governor. But more than Tennessee, more than Arizona, the crazy state has to be Kansas.

State Representative Gail Finney (Wichita-D) introduced bill HB 2699, which redefines spanking in the state of Kansas as “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.”

Are you kidding me? I can’t even right now.

Currently, the Kansas law regarding spanking forbids corporal punishment that would leave bruises. This new law would protect those poor parents who have left marks on their children to be distinguished from — wait for it — child abusers. 

That’s right. This law would allow parents to hit their children hard enough to leave bruises but not be arrested as abusers. I’m sorry…. how is hitting your child HARD ENOUGH TO LEAVE BRUISES anything more than legal child abuse? Riddle me that!

According to the Wichita Eagle, Rep. Finney has commented that “There are some children that are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents, they’re not minding school personnel…[this] tries to give a definition. … But it does not allow hitting, punching, beating, because that is still considered abuse.” NO SUGAR, SHERLOCK. All of those things leave bruises — as spanking would also do under this law.

But also — you have children who are “not minding” the authority figures in their lives, and the answer is corporal punishment? Why wouldn’t you consider reasonably engaging the child to find out why they behave thusly and then correct the behavior from there? Oh, you’re trashed because you thought it was cool? Hitting you is only going to make you mad and feel like a martyr. Instead, let me tell you how much time and toilet paper cost in dollars and then make you clean it up. Much better solution.

I was truly spanked only once in my life. I was four years old. I went exploring, on roller-skates, in the woods behind our house without telling anyone, and was missing for four hours. Our entire family and neighborhood was in frenzy. What I remember most about the event was that I was punished – for not telling anyone where I was going – but each and every punishment was spelled out to me: you are going to get spanked because you did this and we want you to know we are serious; you are going to bed without dinner because of this. Because every punishment was explained to me, I learned to always tell my parents where I was going. From then on, spanking wasn’t the punishment of choice, because I knew that my parents would explain why something was wrong. There was no arbitrary punishment after that point. Whether or not, as a teenager, I agreed with their reasoning is entirely a different matter.   

Don’t take me wrong: sometimes a kid needs a swat on the hand or leg — a single swat to keep them from touching the stove, running into traffic, or turning over a display of Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Bunnies in the middle of Kroger. You may not know this, but toddlers are PSYCHO and you can’t reason with them. There is a MARKED difference though — word choice intentional — between a gentle smack for attention and spanking with the possibility of leaving bruises. Studies show that time-out is much more effective in correcting behavior while not encouraging children to use violence to solve their problems.  Even now, sometimes I just need a time-out to keep myself from “acting like a charlatan/agitator.”

I understand that each generation is concerned that its successor is less disciplined, less ambitious, less considerate, whatever. There are hundreds of articles about “entitled millennials” that speak to that. But, the answer isn’t to fall back on “Ol’ Reliable,” spanking, but to actually try and bridge the gap between parent and child so each can discover what the other thinks and what their actions mean.