Sunday, January 21, 2007

Three Cheers for Sally Lieber



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‘Spare the rod’ could be law
Legislator wants California to ban hitting a child under age 4.
Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | Assemblywoman Sally Lieber hit a nerve when she mused publicly last week about making it illegal for parents to strike children younger than age 4.

Lieber, a Democrat, hasn’t introduced a bill, but criticism has flooded her offices since her local paper wrote about her intention.

Unbowed, Lieber said that she will introduce a bill this week to make California the first state to make any hitting of a toddler or baby a crime.

Lieber is considering making the violation a misdemeanor, punishable by as much as a year in the county jail.

“It would get us out of the ridiculous situation of having our law saying there’s justifiable beating of children, in the midst of a society where we say we value children and protect them,” Lieber said.

Readers of the San Jose Mercury News blasted the idea. “Although I don’t believe in spanking, I sure do not need some media-grubbing politician to tell me how to raise my kids,” wrote one. However, Lieber said she is confident that she will win Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support.

In a Mercury News interview Thursday, Schwarzenegger, a Republican, described how as a child he “got smacked about everything” by his father, but has never spanked his own four children. He questioned how such a law could be enforced, but said he understands the desire to “get rid of the physical, the brutal behavior that some parents have.”

Schwarzenegger’s native Austria banned all corporal punishment of children in 1989. Fifteen other nations have done so, most in Europe, according to the Center for Effective Discipline in Columbus, Ohio. California is one of 29 states that ban corporal punishment in schools.

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My only complaint is that the law would not go far enough. Similar laws are already in place for daycare facilities, schools, etc. and there have not been "frivolous" prosecutions. Children need to be protected against assault in the same way that adults are. Even if this law does not pass, it is so important to get people talking about it. I'm doing my part here.

I know this is a real hot-button issue, which is why I had to turn off comments on my other blog. People who want to hit their kids REALLY want to hit their kids, and get ugly about it.