Kansas Legislation Aimed At Allowing Parents To Spank Harder Rejected

In Kansas currently spanking is allowed but it crosses the line and become child abuse when it leaves a mark. Kansas is one of a handful of states where corporal punishment is legal in schools. Democratic state representative, Gail Finney, aimed to expand that definition of corporal punishment by making it legal to spank and leave a mark for parents, teachers and other caregivers.

Finney says she proposed the law to “restore discipline to families” and protect parent’s rights.
The proposed law would legalize up to ten spankings by hand per child. The law would also allow parents to delegate others to spank their children and included no age limit on children who can be spanked.

Opponents say that one spank is too many and find Finney’s allocation of 10 strikes as completely arbitrary. Critics also allege that the bill attempts to legalize child abuse. Child abuse experts report that spanking is an outdated form of punishment and is less effective than time-outs.

Finney denied these accusations saying the bill was not intended to legalize child abuse but to establish consistent parental corporal punishment standards across Kansas. Britt Colle, the McPherson Deputy County Attorney who inspired Finney to draft the bill remarked, “This bill clarifies what parents can and cannot do. By defining what is legal, it also defines what is not.”

The bill was quickly rejected but has generated much debate on spanking, particularly in schools.

Lisa Steffek

About Lisa Steffek

Lisa Steffek is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. Lisa completed her Bachelors, Masters and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Texas in Human Development and Family Sciences. As an undergraduate, Lisa worked as a research assistant studying child attachment. Lisa also worked for several years at The Settlement Home, a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescent females. Most of the girls at The Settlement Home had been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services, and Lisa worked with the girls to teach them life-skills and provided psychological treatment to prepare them for adulthood and the transition to foster homes. Lisa also worked for six years in various academic capacities at the University of Texas, including an undergraduate teaching assistant, graduate research assistant, and undergraduate writing consultant. Lisa has presented papers regarding human development at various academic conferences in the states and abroad, and has had her writing published in an international, academic journal.

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