Committee forwards plan to criminalize spanking-California


‘I’m a parent, arrest me,’ woman tells lawmakers
Committee forwards plan to criminalize spanking

Posted: April 15, 2008
© 2008 WorldNetDailyA California mother of five has told members of a legislative committee their plan to criminalize spanking by concerned parents would mean that misbehavior and rebellion no longer could be corrected, and she could face arrest.Sarah Berke appeared today before the Democrat-controlled Assembly Public Safety Committee, whose members listened to her, then advanced the plan to criminalize spanking with any “implement,” such as a wooden spoon, little paddle, rolled-up newspaper, switch, belt or brush.

The proposal is a rerun of last year’s attempt to do the same thing, criminalize parents who spank their children, by redefining it as child abuse.

“I’m here today as one of the thousands of parents in our state who love our children and believe in traditional values,” she said. “As someone dead-set against the evil of child abuse, I also have a strong faith that calls on me to correct misbehavior and rebellion when it occurs.”

She said that means, “spanking once in a while.”

However, “my faith and moral beliefs that teach me to ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ would make me a suspected child abuser under AB 2943,” she said. “Under this bill, I could be arrested and charged with child abuse. I could be tried in criminal court, be sent to jail for a year, and lose custody of my children.

“AB 2943 tramples the rights of good parents to raise their children with various methods of correction and discipline. This is wrong. Spanking isn’t child abuse,” she said.

California Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Sally Lieber

The proposal is being backed by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, who launched the same campaign a year ago, only to see it fail then.

Her plan would define any spanking with the use of an “implement” as child abuse.

“AB 2943 will result in good parents being arrested, handcuffed, and charged with criminal child abuse,” said Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families. No state legislature has passed a bill like this, and no state or federal court has ruled that spanking is child abuse.”

Voting to endorse the plan were Jose Solorio of Santa Ana, Hector De La Torre of Los Angeles, Fiona Ma of San Francisco, Anthony Portantino of La Caqada Flintridge and Curren Price of Inglewood. All are Democrats. Republican Greg Aghazarian of Stockton voted against.

The proposal next goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the body that halted last year’s plan by Lieber because of the expected costs, and the status of California’s red-drenched state checkbook.

“This bad bill labels tens of thousands of good fathers and good mothers as violent child abusers,” Thomasson said. “Under AB 2943, all mandatory reporters, including teachers, police officers, social workers, counselors and clergy, must be trained to see parents who spank as potential child abusers. The fact that Sally Lieber wants to order good parents into a ‘nonviolent parental education class’ demonstrates that she thinks parents who spank are violent child abusers.”

“This is so wrong – God gave children to parents, not to the state,” said Thomasson, whose organization is providing Californians with information to call and e-mail their state lawmakers about the plan.

Lieber has claimed this year’s effort would only deal with child abuse, just as last years. But she also affirms that all spanking, by definition, is child abuse.

Those arrested could be charged and tried in a criminal court and be sentenced to a year in jail and lose custody of their children, the family organization said. In addition, it said, such cases could be referred to Child Protective Services and Juvenile Court.

“It’s shameful that a lawmaker wants to ban parents from lovingly disciplining their children,” said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Family Impact.

“Many parents use a wooden spoon or similar instrument to discipline a disobedient child because they don’t want to use their hand, an instrument of love,” she said.

Meredith Turney, the organization’s legislative liaison, testified against the plan.

“AB 2943 equates kicking, cutting or burning a child with a responsible spanking,” she said. “The millions of responsible parents who lovingly discipline their children would never engage in such abusive behavior as burning or cutting their children,” she said.

The California Teacher’s Association, however, supported the plan, saying, “The use of physical punishment teaches children that violence/physical force is an acceptable method to resolve differences. We need to stop the cycle of violence…”

That organization also supported teaching homosexuality in class, as well as supported communist teachers in public schools, England said.

“It is shocking and outrageous that the largest teachers’ union in the state wants to intrude into our homes and tell us how to raise our children,” stated England. “Not content with simply indoctrinating students with communism and homosexuality, the union now wants to prevent parents from disciplining their children.”

England said current law already addresses abuse adequately.

“This bill goes much further and seeks to prohibit parents from raising healthy, responsible children,” she said.

“There is contempt in the legislature for Judeo-Christian values and AB 2943 is the most blatant evidence of this attempt to take away our freedom to raise children according to our beliefs,” Turney said.

Lieber’s plan last year drew objections even from editorialists.

The Contra Costa Times said the bill “is completely unenforceable. Are we to expect a 2-year-old to dial 911 and report a parent for swatting him or her on the behind?”

The newspaper’s editorial took a straightforward shot at the issue.

“With all of the pressing problems facing our state, what issue has the knickers of our esteemed lawmakers in such a twist? What burning concern has the ponderous pundits on the cable news shows frothing at the mouth?

“Global warming? Plunging real estate values? Good-paying jobs being shipped off to India every time you turn around? Maybe the governor’s new health care proposal?

“None of the above.

“The latest meaningless, national distraction, is a silly bill proposed by Assembly Pro Tem Speaker Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, that would make it a crime to spank any child 3 years old or younger.”

The editorial’s suggestion? “Get real.”


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