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Religious Tolerance logo

Corporal punishment of children: Spanking

Media reports: 2007 to now

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Media reports about spanking:

bullet 2007-JAN-11: CA: Anti-spanking bill no-starter: Speaker Pro Temp, Sally Lieber (D-San Jose), had planed to introduce a bill to the California legislature that would ban any form of spanking, hitting, slapping, punching, or hitting a child under the age of 36 months. 1 The bill received nation-wide attention. In the face of determined opposition, she did not file the bill.

Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a socially conservative group, commented:

"This home-invasion bill has been stopped cold by parents and grandparents who know that to love children is to discipline them and show them the way to live. Because so many people have spoken out, the Democrats in Sacramento realize that their liberal agenda is offending a whole lot of people." 2

bullet 2007-MAY-30: South Africa: Bill likely to pass in the National Assembly: A bill to ban parents or guardians from spanking their children was passed on MAY-29 by the National Council of Provinces and is expected to be passed by the National Assembly shortly. The Children's Amendment Bill, states that:

"No child may be subjected to corporal punishment or be punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. ... Prosecution of a parent or person holding parental responsibilities and rights ... may be instituted if the punishment constitutes abuse of the child." 3

The Independent Online news source stated:

"Carol Bower, former head of Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and now a consultant on children's issues, said the bill curbs a culture of violence in South Africa by protecting the rights of children."

"Under the Children's Bill, parents who are reported for administering 'inappropriate forms of punishment' to a child will be referred to an early intervention programme, which focuses on parental skills and diverting children from the criminal justice system and children's institutions."

" 'We are not saying you mustn't be firm, but we must set boundaries and consequences that a child will see. We should be teaching children to make sensible decisions and to do what hurts people the least. When we hit a child, we are teaching them to solve problems with violence,' she said." 4

bullet 2007-SEP-18: South Africa: National Assembly considering anti-spanking bill: Parliament's social development portfolio committee considered the Children's Amendment Bill. George Raath of Life Enrichment Ministries was also speaking for the Baptist Union of South Africa, the Church of England in South Africa and 17 smaller denominations. He said that the Bible -- specifically four verses in the book of Proverbs -- requires parents to use a rod when disciplining their children. He testified:

"We do not have the option... this is a command of God. ... Our objection is limited to section 139 of the bill, the amendments dealing with corporal punishment in the home. ... It's very clear it's a rod we're talking about. It's not talking to somebody; it's not trying to teach him because he doesn't know enough or anything like that. It is trying to teach him something through the rod. ... We believe in the supremacy of the scripture of the Bible in all matters referring to life and to moral issues... The Bible is obviously not a text book on science or anything, but as far as we are concerned we believe it is the ultimate word. ... If this bill passes ... it places the Christians who share our ethos directly in contravention of the law. It would actually make criminals of us for daring to discipline our children in accordance with what we understand biblical norms to be. It will ... leave Christians with an absolute and strenuous choice between obeying the law of the land and following their conscience. We talk about alternatives, but I submit there are no alternatives. Ultimately, if there is a rebellious attitude and defiant attitude in the child, then the Bible ... states that you are to use the rod. ... If we are put in a position where we have to choose, we have to reply ... that we will obey God rather than man. [The bill is] ... a direct attack on the freedom of religion. ...It is the first time that it is being said there is something you believe in, that you may not do. ... That is an affront to the citizens of this country. We have a constitutional right, and I think it is a very sad day that I have to sit here and come and argue our constitutional rights." 5

The implication appears to be that the denominations represented by George Raath believe that children do not have a constitutional right to be free of aggravated physical abuse involving being beaten with a rod.

bullet 2007-NOV: Uruguay became the first Latin American country to pass a law that bans allforms of physical and humiliating punishment of children.
bullet 2007-DEC: Venezuela became the second Latin American country to ban corporal punishment of children. The new law states:

Article 32a. The right to good treatment All children and young people have a right to be treated well. This right includes a non-violent education and upbringing, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity.

Parents, representatives, guardians, relatives, and teachers should use non-violent methods of education and discipline to raise and educate their children. Consequently, all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited. The State, with the active participation of society, must ensure policies, programs and protection measures are in place to abolish all forms of physical and humiliating punishment of children and young people.

Corporal punishment is defined as the use of force, in raising or educating children, with the intention of causing any degree of physical pain or discomfort to correct, control or change the behavior of children and young people.

Humiliating punishment can be understood as any form of offensive, denigrating, devaluing, stigmatizing or mocking, treatment, carried out to raise or educate children and young people, with the aim of disciplining, controlling or changing their behavior.

Article 56. The right to be respected by teachers. All children and young people have the right to be respected by their teachers, and receive an education based on love, affection, mutual understanding, national identity, mutual respect for ideas and beliefs, and solidarity. Consequently, all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited.

Article 358. Content of the responsibility for raising children. The responsibility for raising children includes the shared duty and right, which is equal and non-derogable, 7 of the father and mother to love, raise, train, educate, and look after their children, sustain and assist them financially, morally and emotionally, using appropriate corrective measures that do not violate their dignity, rights, guarantees or overall development. Consequently, all forms of physical punishment, psychological violence and humiliating treatment, which harm children and young people, are prohibited.

Stated purpose: A new human right ? the right to be treated well - has been introduced to reinforce children and young people's status as rights-holders, and to ensure the full recognition of their dignity and personal integrity. This right includes a non-violent upbringing and education, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity. In addition to an express ban on all forms of physical and humiliating punishment, fathers, mothers, representatives, guardians, relatives and teachers have an obligation to use non-violent methods to raise, train, educate and discipline children and young people, to ensure the implementation of this right. This new regulation is a step towards achieving abolition of all forms of abuse of children and young people, and building the legal foundations for a new and peaceful society.

bullet 2009-JUN-24: USA Demonstration planned for Washington DC:  "The Hitting Stops Here!" and other children?s rights advocates will be holding a demonstration in Washington, DC. to promote a ban on corporal punishment in public schools. It is called "Operation Stop and Replace!: STOP beating our children. REPLACE with proven positive discipline models." See informative Flyer at http://www.TheHittingStopsHere.com.

bullet 2010-FEB-06: USA: The Coalition Againsts School Paddling files complaint: The Coalition filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights against the states of: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. It says in part:

"This complaint arises not from specific acts of discrimination but rather from the ongoing practice of paddling in public schools throughout the state of [state's name]."

"Paddling is a form of punishment that involves striking a student on the buttocks with a wooden paddle in order to inflict pain. The paddle may have holes drilled through it to reduce wind resistance and thereby maximize the velocity with which it can be swung. Generally, the student being paddled is required to bend forward at the waist to receive the blows, often with their pelvis braced against a desk."

"School paddling is inconsistent with Title IX because it inherently impacts boys and girls unequally. Unlike boys, girls who have entered puberty would have to reveal intimate personal information in order to avoid the chance of this punishment being unfairly compounded by menstrual discomfort, or of being a risk factor where there is the possibility of pregnancy or other female-specific vulnerabilities. Either the school callously and/or recklessly does not address such concerns when paddling girls (concerns which many students may be too embarrassed or intimidated to volunteer), or it intrusively does inquire about them." 8

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "California: No Spanking Bill," FOX40 KTXL, 2007-JAN-11. Online at: http://www.nospank.net/
  2. "Parents, Grandparents Beat Back California No-Spanking Bill. Overwhelming public outrage delays Democrat-sponsored bill for second week," Campaign for Children and Families, 2007-FEB-01, at: http://www.savecalifornia.com/
  3. "SA set to extend spanking ban to the home," Mail & Guardian, 2007-MAY-30, at: http://www.nospank.net/
  4. Christina Gallagher, "Spanking kids to be outlawed," The Star, 2007-JUN-02, at: http://www.iol.co.za/
  5. "Christian parents are required by God to use a rod on their children if they are defiant or rebellious, MPs heard on Tuesday," News24.com, 2007-SEP-18, at: http://nospank.net/
  6. "VENEZUELA: Second Latin American country to ban corporal punishment," 2007-DEC-20, at: http://nospank.net/
  7. Non-derogable rights are those that can never be suspended, even in the case of emergencies.
  8. "Title IX Complaint Against Paddling States," Project NoSpank, 2010-FEB-08, at: http://nospank.net/

Copyright © 2002 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-FEB-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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