WICHITA, Kan. – The Kansas legislature today passed a bill allowing public schools to beat misbehaving students provided they have a permission slip signed by a parent or guardian. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Gail Finney said her bill was needed to ensure that parents, caregivers, or school officials who hit children will not be charged with child abuse.
“What’s happening is there are some children that are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents, they’re not minding school personnel,” said Finney, whose bill allows for “reasonable physical force” to be used to restrain a child during a spanking. “Now the kids will know that if they act out, Principal Bob’s unstrapping his belt.”
McPherson County Assistant District Attorney Britt Colle, who asked Finney to introduce the bill, celebrated its passage. “This is about parental freedom. Now, if I want my kid bruised and battered but am either too squeamish or too busy to actually hit him myself, I can just write a note and let the schools beat him for me.”
One of the sticking points of the legislation was defining the number of times a child could be beaten. While the bill’s backers pushed for an unlimited number of blows, more moderate heads in the chamber managed to limit the quantity. The final bill allows “up to 10 forceful applications in succession.”
“Gail really pushed for something in the hundreds,” recalled Republican Representative John Rubin, Chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. “But we convinced her that you can do permanent mental, emotional, and physical damage to a child with just a couple of good swats.”
John Valusek, a retired Wichita psychologist and teacher who spearheaded a decades-long crusade against spanking, decried any use of force against children. “If you hit kids when they’re small, for whatever reason you’re hitting them, you’re planting the idea that it’s OK to use pain to accomplish an end,” he said.
Upon hearing of Valusek’s remarks., Finney responded, “Yeah? And?”