Patterico's Pontifications


California Legislator Seeks to Criminalize Spanking

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:10 pm

A California legislator wants to make it a criminal offense for parents to spank their own children, if the children are younger than four years old.

No, she doesn’t have any children of her own.

Yes, she’s a Democrat.

P.S. For the record, I don’t spank my children, as a general rule. But I have once or twice — when the child was three, and nothing else seemed to work.

Should that make me a criminal??

47 Responses to “California Legislator Seeks to Criminalize Spanking”

  1. Should that make me a criminal??


    Anwyn (a130c1)

  2. theres one stupid brainless jackass that should have a whip taken to it till it brays loudly its more of BIG BROTHER eerr BIG SISTER sticking their big fat nose where it has no buisness

    krazy kagu (376605)

  3. With kids a positive reward system works better than a negative punishment system — the Sea World pet trainers have it right.

    That said, humans aren’t exempt from the biological fact of dominance hierarchies. Have you watched an episode of The Nanny where the parent or parents let the child have physical dominance over them? It’s worse than “Lord of the Flies” — the violence to parents and other children is unbelievable. Parents must have dominance over their children in order for civilization to survive in the household. Parents who are afraid of what others with think of them — or fear the Child Protective Services — are likely to create violent situation at home (and perhaps in the community) because they have abandoned their duty to be in control of their own children. If the criminalization of spanking leads parents to abandon their duty to be in charge of their kids, then so much the worse for this proposed law.

    I vote we all give this fruit cake Democrat a good spanking.

    PrestoPundit (a2369b)

  4. If you have a 2-year-old who runs into the street, and won’t “listen to reason” on this matter, then it isn’t child abuse to spank him for doing so. Indeed, it would be neglectful not to spank him. It is precisely the children most likely to be “protected” by this proposed law (I’d say ~18 months to ~3 years) for whom such action may prove necessary. (Children over 3 can generally be reasoned with.) So the bill is doubly stupid.

    DWPittelli (87ad39)

  5. Spanking makes other forms of discipline possible.

    Just like the threat of jail gets people into rehab.

    jpm100 (851d24)

  6. The author of the bill is a “Bay Area Democrat”. Here is here bio.:

    “Sally represents the 22nd District, considered the ‘Heart of Silicon Valley,’ where she lives with her husband David. They are proud to be active in neighborhood and community activities, enjoy hiking and windsurfing and take seriously their role as pet guardians for a politically astute black-and-white cat.”

    Although she would make giving a swat to a 3 year old a state crime, she is in favor of allowing the killing of a nine month old just coming out of the womb. I kid you not.

    PrestoPundit (a2369b)

  7. Note well — I meant 9 months old since first beginning life in the womb.

    PrestoPundit (a2369b)

  8. i’d just like to put in a good word for erotic spanking. sometimes the woman in your life needs gentle but firm correction, and if you do it right, she’ll love you for it.

    assistant devil's advocate (e57e58)

  9. I don’t think spanking should be criminalized. I also don’t think parents should spank their children. If you’re trying to instill discipline, how does acting in an undisciplined manner yourself, out of frustration, help?

    Mark Wilson (5d27fd)

  10. That’s assuming spanking is always an undisciplined act on the parent’s part. An off-the-cuff smack, even if it’s on the bottom, is likely to be undisciplined. However, used AS a form of discipline–i.e. with consequences clearly laid out, such as “If you do X, you know that you will get a spanking” turns it from an act of frustration into simply another form of consequence for a forbidden pattern of behavior.

    Anwyn (a130c1)

  11. It won’t be ok to spank a child but it still will be ok to take a child into a tattoo parlor to be inked, pierced or branded?

    Pat Patterson (5b3946)

  12. The wife and I were firmly against spanking right up till the time our second son was born.


    And he’s getting ready to turn two so it can only get more interesting.

    Even when he’s spanked he’ll be laughing at us. But at least he’ll listen!

    For a couple of minutes. Sometimes. If we’re lucky.

    And the previous post about a toddler running into the street is dead on!

    Subvet (d2c0a7)

  13. It’s a hard question, Patterico. I have seen a four-year old girl whose mother yelled at her for some minor misbehavior, start crying and saying “Please don’t beat me again, mommy. Please don’t beat me, again”. I have seen even worse in my internship at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Child Abuse and Neglect Unit. Some parents hit too often, hit too hard and don’t seem to know when to stop. I would not mind a law that made it prima facie abuse to hit a child on the face or head.

    (I do not spank my daughter. I do not hit grownups either, BTW. The closest I have come to losing my cool with my daughter is when she was three and she threw a horrible tantrum. She was scratching herself across her stomach and down her face and ears. We put her in the bathtub and started splashing water on her. In three minutes she was laughing and playing with her bath toys. We don’t have timeouts, either. We tried it but, well … you know … afterwards you feel like a sheep-killing dog. She did give ME a time-out once after she had an especially hard time at the pediatrician’s.)

    nk (57e995)

  14. The most telling part is that the honorable lady and her doubtlessly henpecked, sits-down-to-pee husband have no children themselves.

    It’s always been easy for people to have absolutely splendid ideas concerning how to rear other people’s children, the children for whom others are responsible, and the children they don’t have to take back home with themselves.

    (P)et guardians for a politically astute black-and-white cat.

    Has anyone informed them that their cat is a carnivore?

    Dana (556f76)

  15. If someone had spanked George Bush and Dick Cheney about 40 years ago the world would be a much better place ..

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  16. Sure, those who have no kids find discipline easy. To extend this idea, those who have three docile little girls may have the chutzpa to tell the parents of rebellious boys how to correct misbehavior without spanking. If sweet reason fails, the parent will have to choose between giving in or resorting to spanking.

    dchamil (2a33b6)

  17. Liberals are smarter than everyone else, just ask one. If you don’t agree with ’em, it’s through ignorance or you’re evil.

    Yes, I have spanked my child. Smacked her hand a few times too. Hate to tell the idiot legislator but done early enough, prevents a whole lot of problems later on.

    My nephews son is raised in a no spank household, he’ll be in prison by the time he’s 20. Pretty much spoiled and does what he wants. I watched him one afternoon, didn’t take a 1/2 an hour before his first and only spanking. I don’t have trouble with him.

    Guess she’d completely lose it she see’s how I correct a dog.

    Gerald (436acc)

  18. Gerald wrote:

    Guess she’d completely lose it she see’s how I correct a dog.

    Maybe you could reward the dog by letting him eat her cat.

    Dana (71415b)

  19. I think the discussion should center around the “Cult of the Child”.

    Has anyone noticed the sense of entitlement that shrouds the opinions attitudes and beliefs of the children today? Anyone have any teenagers?

    I think the problem of emotional retardation resulting from the co-dependency parents have created through their near-insane focus on the
    child is just now rising to bite us all on the arse.

    It started with the children of Depression Babies and has increased exponentially with successive generations. Too much given too easily. A little spanking is the ONLY recourse left on occasion. Sometimes the deep learning of Imprinting can only be facilitated with some physical pain.

    Semanticleo (e8f396)

  20. […] the Left, Too much time on their hands, Things that piss me off, Culture and Society | Trackback | | Top OfPage […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Archives » Solid leftist guidance in how to rear our children (819604)

  21. The law is going to find it hard to distinguish between spanking and beating. There are easy cases on both ends, but there are going to be those in the middle that will give everyone headaches and heartaches.

    I was left to babysit “Jeff”, 4 years old (and whom I had been told was the neighborhood terror) and his two year old sister, while the others went on errands. Shortly after they’d all left, he came up to me, and we had a conversation. His parents were firmly anti-spank.

    “Jeff”: Uncle Htom, do you believe in spanking?

    Htom: Why? Have you done something that you should be spanked?

    “Jeff”: No reason. I think I’ll behave.

    Htom: OK.

    And he did. While I was “in charge” I never saw or heard of his exhibiting any of the “terror” behaviors.

    htom (412a17)

  22. I also posted about this and found that Sally has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood

    I guess she’s missing the irony gene when she says she’s against “all violence against children” but is pro-partial-birth-abortion.

    Darleen (543cb7)

  23. nk

    Some parents hit too often, hit too hard and don’t seem to know when to stop.

    That’s what I would call a “beating” and the law should be there to stop it.

    But when a three year old is reaching out to a hot stove, a quick slap on the hand is going to be less painful then the burn.

    Darleen (543cb7)

  24. htom wrote:

    I was left to babysit “Jeff”, 4 years old (and whom I had been told was the neighborhood terror) and his two year old sister, while the others went on errands.

    Jeff, huh? That wasn’t spelled Xrlq, was it? 🙂

    Dana (71415b)

  25. A spanking isn’t intended to hurt — much — and it isn’t intended to do any damage. The purpose of a spanking is to get the child’s undivided attention and establish complete command and control. It sets the absolute guideline, you will not do this, and it establishes it immediately and without question.

    I’ve got two daughters, both of whom have had their butts swatted, on very rare occasions. (Spanking is one of those things that yields diminishing returns; the more frequently done, the less effective it becomes.) So far, I’ve got a dean’s list student (in engineering, no less) at Penn State, and an honor student in high school. I’m guessing that I haven’t damaged them inordinately.

    Dana (71415b)

  26. I may never do it again. I don’t think it accomplished anything that other punishments were failing to accomplish.

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  27. As soon as I read the headline in my local paper I KNEW she didn’t have kids.

    viktor (f22967)

  28. Excuse me, but this is the dumbest thing ever. The problem is how do you communicate to a 9 month old that they are doing something they should not, they are not going to reason, and you can’t take away something they “really want.” You have to administer a light but genuine punishment. Often times (especially when young), this can be accomplished with something as light as a flick on the wrist. Painful but mostly fleeting. In any event it communicates what you can not to a child who is not old enough to understand most language.

    Dumb dumb dumb is what this “idea” is.

    Joel B. (955208)

  29. Joel B. did you really mean “9 month old”?

    nk (35ba30)

  30. Sorry folks, but it’s none of the governments business. I discipline my four sons the best i can. Each one and individual. #3 is a wild man and has lietrally had to be slapped to rationally from a a tantrum- at 12 years old. Didn’t have to do that again. 16 year old physically threaten his Mother in a heated (male hormone fueled to be sure) argument, he got punched in the mouth-once. Now he doesn’t threaten anyone in this household. The assertion of the ultimate discipline-physical force- and it’s constant availablity lead to more rational choices -by the child- in later child-rearing situations. BTW the other two sons who witnessed this discipline didn’t have any physical discipline applied to them, they figured it out for themselves.
    Did I like doing that? Hell no, cried like a baby later on. But that keep me from using it to cover all situations.

    paul from fl (967602)

  31. Darleen, # 23,

    My daughter, at four years, nine months and twenty-nine days, has already had $5,000.00’s worth of plastic surgery for a skateboard cut on her chin. She knows that the world hurts but her parents don’t.

    Paul from fl, #30:

    Sorry to disagree. If the protection of children is not government’s business then nothing else is.

    nk (d5dd10)

  32. It seems to me that every parent is already at risk of a child abuse complaint if he or she spanks a child. All it takes is a report of spanking from the child or any witness, along with a contemporaneous bruise or damage (from any source, as long as it arguably could have resulted from the spanking), and there will be an investigation of child abuse. Of course, depending on the jurisdiction and the evidence of abuse, it may be that nothing will happen to the parent but the risk is always there.

    What this proposed law does it open the door to more pervasive intrusions into child-rearing and a family’s home life. With this law, you only need an allegation of spanking (as opposed to an allegation of spanking plus evidence of a bruise or other damage) and the investigation will begin. Perhaps this is an overreaction on my part but it seems like a slippery slope that leads to the government telling people exactly how they can raise their kids.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  33. I wrote about this on my blog, too, but you had more info (it applies to children under 4). I’m still waiting for the definition of spanking? Is it a swat on the butt? 20 lashes with a belt? A bruise or stripe?

    After three kids, I will say that NOTHING works on everybody and your job as a parent is to figure out what motivates each of them. My oldest was cowed just by the threat of a spanking (never had very many). My son (middle child) could be spanked every day and it wouldn’t change his attitude or behavior. I found that taking away (or threatening to take away) a beloved computer game works best for him. The youngest–well, looking like she hurt your feelings seems to punish her enough to change her behavior.

    All three kids are good in school and get good grades. I’m not a genius. I just learned by trial and error.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  34. Yes, I meant 9 month old. The thing is once, they start crawling they need to learn what to do and what not, and if they want to reach for the electric sockets or the under the sink liquids, they need to know that that is unacceptable. Note, I meant a flick on the wrist. Not very hard at all but something that would cause a little pain, and recognition to the child that they can’t “crawl” there.

    Joel B. (955208)

  35. Joel,

    Just a suggestion but you might consider diversion at that age. Babies may understand at that moment that you don’t like a certain behavior, but they might also be intrigued by your response and decide to do it again. In any event, babies at that age don’t have the memory cells to remember and correlate the activity and the consequence beyond a few moments, so there will be a next time.

    On the other hand, diversion to an appropriate activity will be self-reinforcing. Babies at that age like to repeat and repeat and repeat – as all parents know because young children love us to sing the same song or read the same book over and over. Thus, you can accomplish the desired result if you divert the babies to a more appropriate activity, doing it in exactly the same way every time. I think you will find they forget about the inappropriate activity in a short period of time.

    Just be prepared to do the diversionary activity over and over, so pick something safe that you can tolerate. At that age, our oldest fixated on John Wayne and our youngest on Barney. I’ve found I can tolerate them both but my Barney tolerance level was strained.

    Just a thought.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  36. […] He went through a biting phase. I managed to stop it through other means. My mother, however, bit me back when I went through the same phase. Guess how many times she bit me? Come on, guess! I’ll tell you this: I never bit her (or anybody else) again. Three-year-olds and older two-year-olds are quite smart enough to connect punishment to crime, especially when it’s laid out carefully to them and properly reinforced. Which brings me to my last merit argument, widely believed but brought to us in this instance by a commenter at Patterico’s: If you’re trying to instill discipline, how does acting in an undisciplined manner yourself, out of frustration, help? […]

    Electric Venom » Blog Archive » California Assemblywoman Wants to Spank Spankers (2acab2)

  37. I sometimes spanked my two boys when they were young. But when I was in public and needed to bring them to heel, I used a method that, to my recollection, always worked instantly. I’d say, “if you don’t behave, I’ll start singing.”
    You have to be prepared to carry through with the threat. Operetta works best. The prospect of public humiliation always worked.

    Rosemarie (ca9374)

  38. Assemblywoman Sally Lieber apparently has a cat. She must mind her own business and pass a law prohibiting cat spanking, something she knows something about.

    Wesson (c20d28)

  39. There are some whippersnappers on my street that need to be spanked on the head with a 2×4.

    Cpl. Punishment (43095b)

  40. That’ll teach ’em.

    Cpl. Punishment (43095b)

  41. in regards to finding the line between parenting and abuse…
    My spouse has been with Social Services for years, doing investigations of abuse, parental counseling, and is now the director. He always told parents that if they absolutely needed to use corporal punishment in order to deal with an unruly child, then there could be “no smack to the head region” and “no more than 3 firm spanks” (to the leg/buttock…). Also, as I parent I felt that the old advice to “remain calm and professional” –at least on the surface– is very valuable, i.e. no emotional screaming and flailing like a banshee at your child. You must present yourself to the child as doing your job as a parent, and that you are in control of this situation. (And as a teacher, I can say also that learning to find somewhere within you, The Voice of Authority, is critical to preventing problems of disobedience –no pleading with children.)
    As said already here in this comment section, laying down the parameters for children early on prevents problems down the road and sets limits within which the child can then freely and happily operate.
    These spankiing guidelines seemed reasonable to most parents, which is why I offer them up here; the other parents who could not retain self-control or set such limits on themselves during discipline situations were hauled back in and faced with parental classes or loss of custody of their children, depending on the circumstances.

    Deb (ec7c8c)

  42. p.s. forgot to mention that any spanking should be done with the parent’s bare hand–no belts, hairbrushes, or my mom’s choice, switches from the front hedge. (A bare hand is a “fair” reminder to the parent of the sting and pain being administered, so that one is not just flailing away in anger and frustration–which would constitute abuse of a child, of course.)

    Deb (ec7c8c)

  43. […] He went through a biting phase. I managed to stop it through other means. My mother, however, bit me back when I went through the same phase. Guess how many times she bit me? Come on, guess! I’ll tell you this: I never bit her (or anybody else) again. Three-year-olds and older two-year-olds are quite developed enough to connect punishment to crime, especially when it’s laid out carefully to them and properly reinforced. Which brings me to my last merit argument, widely believed but brought to us in this instance by a commenter at Patterico’s: If you’re trying to instill discipline, how does acting in an undisciplined manner yourself, out of frustration, help? […]

    Anwyn’s Notes in the Margin » California Assemblywoman Wants to Spank Spankers (e8be5d)

  44. Reminds me of the pastor who said he, “Once had 4 principles for childrearing and no kids, now he has 4 kids and no principles”.

    This attempt at protecting children is an example of how blunt a general rule or law can be. I am sure that there are children (and adults) who would prefer(ed) a few swats on the bottom by a parent under self-control than ongong screaming and being told how “bad” and “no good” they are.

    As said above, a very important thing is for the parent to be self-controlled. Physical discipline, verbal correction, “natural consequences” all work best when applied by a thoughtful and under-control parent. There probably is no one way to discipline that is appropriate always.

    Owner of a “politically astute black-and-white cat”… We have two black-and white cats. Neither is politically astute. One is as dumb as a doornail, the other is smart enough to know when it has done something wrong it is time to hide. Neither has responded to spanking, verbal reprimand, time outs, natural consequences, the promise of catnip, or threats of being fed to the Mastiffs next door. Being cats, they think the same about us. Neither has a voter registration card (even though it is Philly, they don’t have a pocket to put it in.)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  45. MD, you needn’t worry about neither of your cats being registered to vote; being Philadelphia, there’s almost certainly someone out there prepared to vote for them.

    Vote for Nutter: he’s no nuttier than the rest!

    Dana (556f76)

  46. When I was about 9 or ten and my younger brother was about 7 we were throwing amy men out of the second floor window. The screen fell out while we were doing this. My dad came up to put the screen back in the window and told both of us we were going to get a spanking because what we did was dangerous and we could have fallen out the window. He asked who wanted to go first. My brother was closer so he went firts. My dad put him over his knee and gave him three spanks over his clothers. I was second and he put me across his lap and gave me three swats on my butt. He did not take down my clothes. I could feel them but they did not hut to make us cry. We both learned our lesson. He also said if we ever do this again the spankings will be bare and much harder. Spankings are not suppose to hurt but get the attention of the child.

    Beth Swikart (0a549c)

  47. My brother and I got a spanking for throwing army men out the window when we were younger. I was about 9 and he was 7. They were 3 mediom spanks on our bottom fully clothed. They got our attention but they were not hard enough to make us cry.

    Beth Swikart (0a549c)

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