Monday, April 18, 2005

Go ahead, hit your kid

God bless my backwards state. Yes, the Texas House has affirmed a parent's right to beat their kids. Luckily, the bill probably won't pass the Senate.

It's a shame the bill was sponsored by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) for whom I usually have a lot respect. Not on this one. Kudos to Rep. Alma Allen for pointing out the (apparently not so) obvious:

"I don't ever see a need to hit another human being. We only hit children because they are smaller than us," she said.


Since registration is required, here's the whole article (or go to bugmenot.com for a login):

Pro-paddling bill sails through House

Under plan, prosecutors must show spanking is more than discipline

08:10 PM CDT on Monday, April 18, 2005

By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – In case any hesitant paddle-wielding parent is confused, the Texas House just affirmed your right to use it on your kid's backside.

Or, if you're not around to administer the whipping, you can pass it off to an aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbor or teacher without fear of prosecution, under legislation that passed the House without debate Monday.

It's OK just as long as the swats are administered in the interest of "reasonable punishment."

"Parents are saying, 'We want to make sure the state doesn't intervene when we're trying to discipline our child,' " said the bill's author, Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston.

Bill opponent and fellow Houston Democratic Rep. Alma Allen, a former high school principal, called paddling a "hand-down from slavery, where people learned to control other people."

Ms. Allen's bill banning corporal punishment in schools is stuck in the House Public Education Committee. "I don't ever see a need to hit another human being. We only hit children because they are smaller than us," she said.

Under current law, Texas parents can already pull out the paddle as a means of disciplining their children.

If they're charged with child abuse, they can beat the rap if they prove it was simple discipline. Mr. Dutton's legislation shifts the burden to prosecutors to prove that the spanking was more than that.

Mr. Dutton, a lawyer, once defended a woman charged with child abuse after she whipped her teen granddaughter with a cord when she didn't come home all weekend.

"That grandmother's question to the judge was, 'What should I do? Should I send her to her room for timeout? ... Or should I do something drastic to try and turn her life around?' " he said.

The House passed similar legislation last session, only to watch it die in a Senate committee.

House members on Monday expounded on their own lives, wearing as a badge of honor the whippings they got – or were threatened with – as children.

"We didn't have alternative schools," said Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington. "We just had swats."

E-mail kmbrooks@dallasnews.com

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