California lawmaker wants to outlaw spanking

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Recently, Jonathon Morgan reported on yet another reason not to hit your kids -- it makes them more sickly. I don't know if that research had anything to do with this, but a California lawmaker wants to make spanking illegal. Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, thinks that kids three years old and younger should be safe from corporal punishment. (Moms and dads would still be free to spank each other as much as they want, once the kids are in bed.)

If she gets her way, spanking a toddler or infant would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine up to $1,000. First-time offenders would likely get off with only having to take parenting classes. "I think it's pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child 3 years old or younger," says Lieber. "Is it OK to whip a 1-year-old or a six-month-old or a newborn?" More than 10 European countries already ban spanking, starting with Sweden as far back as 1979.

"Why do we allow parents to hit a little child and not someone their own size?" asks Thomas Nazario, a professor at the University of San Francisco Law School and an expert in children's legal issues worldwide. "Everyone in the state is protected from physical violence, so where do you draw the line? To take a child and spank his little butt until he starts crying, some people would define that as physical violence." It was a conversation with Nazario, a family friend, that prompted Lieber to introduce the legislation.

I know a lot of people do think spanking is okay, but I'll tell you right up front, I'm not one of them. Is this legislation going too far, however? I'm not sure, actually. I'd probably be proud if it did pass, though. What do you think? Is this a good idea or a case of the government overstepping its boundaries?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.