Printable Version

AB 2943 - Prohibition of Spanking
Action Alert

By Roy Hanson Jr.

JOINT LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT – April 7, 2007
From: Roy Hanson's Child and Family Protection Association

***** ***** ***** *****

Bill: AB 2943 (as amended 4/3/08) – Prohibition of Spanking
Author: State Assembly Member Sally Lieber

Position: Strongly OPPOSE – amendments cannot help

Status: Assigned to California State Assembly Public Safety Committee.

***** ***** ***** *****

Information Included In This E-mail:

A. Summary of Concerns
B. Action Items
C. Opposition Points to Share with Legislators

***** ***** ***** *****

A. Summary of Concerns:

Assembly Member Sally Lieber has reintroduced her "anti-spanking" bill with a new number - AB 2943. Last year she attempted to push her bill, AB 755, through the Legislature, and it was officially stopped on January 31, 2008, when it failed to be passed out of the Assembly. Identical to her failed AB 755, AB 2943 would have the practical effect of making a non-injurious spanking with an object such as a ruler, folded newspaper, small paddle, etc. illegal. After being arrested, charged, and tried in a criminal court, parents could receive up to one year in jail and lose custody of their children. When Lieber claims that her bill only deals with child abuse, remember that she has stated repeatedly that all spanking, by definition, is child abuse. Her strategy in AB 2943 is to treat all spanking with an object as criminal child abuse. She has deliberately failed to make any distinction between spanking as a method of discipline and true child abuse.

AB 2943 would amend Penal Code 273a, which currently makes it a crime to cause unjustifiable pain, harm, or injury to any minor child. The instructions to a jury which are mandated by the current version of AB 2943 would state that a jury may consider that physical pain or mental suffering inflicted upon a child is unjustifiable if it is caused by any of the seven kinds of actions, which are also listed in AB 2943. The first of the seven actions listed is: “the use of an implement, including, but not limited to, a stick, a rod, a switch, an electrical cord, an extension cord, a belt, a broom, or a shoe.” This first action includes the act of spanking with an object other than using one’s hand. Because these items would be listed in the Penal Code, the police and District Attorney would likely consider all spanking with an implement to be grounds to bring charges against the parents. Then a criminal court trial would determine if the parents are guilty of criminal child abuse. Parents would have the difficult task of proving that the spanking was justifiable to the satisfaction of the court in a criminal trial in order to avoid being sent to jail for up to one year or receiving other penalties. The case also could be referred to Child Protective Services (CPS) and Juvenile Court, which could result in the possible temporary or permanent loss of custody of their children.

* Please see our "AB 2943 Alert Supplement" for a more detailed explanation and additional opposition points.

***** ***** ***** *****

B. Action Item:

WRITE your Assembly Member.
(You can find your Assembly Member's Capitol address and fax number by entering your 9-digit ZIP code in the Legislative Tool Box at http://www.capwiz.com/hslda, or by calling the office in your county that handles voter registration.)

Ask them to –
"Please vote No on AB 2943 (by Lieber). AB 2943 would cause parents who use a small paddle or similar object, when lovingly spanking their child, to be arrested and prosecuted in a criminal trial. AB 2943 is unnecessary. Children are already protected from all forms of true child abuse in current law."

(You may want to use one of the "Opposition Points to Share with Legislators" presented below in addition to the suggested "script" above.)

Notes:

***** ***** ***** *****

C. Opposition Points to Share with Legislators:

  1. AB 2943 would hurt the very children that this bill is supposed to help, especially if their parents have lower incomes or they have only one parent. When you hurt the child's primary caregiver, you hurt the child. There will be a great amount of stress, grief, and hardship resulting from an arrest, trial, expenses for an attorney, time lost at work, threat of job loss, difficulty of getting a new job because of having a criminal record, separating the child from parents, fines, jail time, class time. The trauma and stigma of a child's parent(s) going through a criminal trial will only add to their troubles. This whole experience could be an unbearable stress.
  2. There is no objective research that links bad outcomes for children who have been spanked by their parents.(1) The best credible research has shown that nonabusive spanking when used to back up other disciplinary methods has been effective in curbing antisocial behavior in children as they grow up.(2) Diana Baumrind, Ph.D., of the University of California found that children who are occasionally spanked score higher on measures of adjustment than children who have never been spanked.(3) According to Robert E. Larzelere, Ph.D., of Oklahoma State University, ten years after Sweden's ban on spanking was instituted, child abuse had increased instead of decreasing.(4)
  3. AB 2943 defies all common sense and history. There is no state that forbids the use of an object for spanking by parents. This form of discipline, when reasonably administered, has been accepted by every generation of Californians and Americans. Criminalizing a significant portion of the populace by imposing the author's personal beliefs about discipline and spanking on the parents of California is a terrible and grave injustice. According to a national ABC News Opinion Poll, over one half of the persons interviewed believe that a reasonable spanking to the buttocks is appropriate as a method of child discipline and close to one half of parents with minor children at home spank their children.(5) A poll taken for CBS News on Jan. 18, 2007, found that 57% of California Bay Area adults would oppose legislation banning spanking.
  4. If AB 2943 becomes law, there will be a huge increase in the number of reports of child abuse and endangerment to law enforcement, child protective services, and then an increase in cases to be handled by D.A. offices, Criminal Courts, and Juvenile Courts. The flood of new cases resulting from AB 2943 will be overwhelming for these agencies of the state, most of which are already overloaded with a backlog of serious crime and child abuse cases.

* Please see our "AB 2943 Alert Supplement" for a more detailed explanation and additional opposition points.

Footnotes:

  1. Larzelere, Robert E. and Kuhn, Brett R.; Comparing Child Outcomes of Physical Punishment and Alternative Disciplinary Tactics: A Meta-Analysis; Clinical Child and Family Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2005; p. 2.
  2. Larzelere, Robert E. and Kuhn, Brett R.; Comparing Child Outcomes of Physical Punishment and Alternative Disciplinary Tactics: A Meta-Analysis; Clinical Child and Family Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2005; p. 26.
  3. Baumrind, Diana; Respondent's Affidavit Brief; Canadian Foundation For Children, Youth and the Law vs. The Attorney General In Right of Canada; Superior Court of Justice, Ontario Court; May 3, 1999, para. 85, 87.
  4. Larzelere, Robert E.; Sweden's smacking ban: more harm than good; Family First and The Christian Institute; England; 2004; p. 4.
  5. ABCNEWS.com: Poll: Most Approve of Spanking Kids; March 26, 2007.

***** ***** ***** *****

Roy Hanson's HELP Tree
Child and Family Protection Association
1000 Sunrise Ave, Ste 9B, #418
Roseville, CA 95661
contact@childandfamilyprotection.org

***** ***** ***** *****

The purpose of this communication is to present information and express our position on the issue(s) addressed. We encourage you to research this for yourself and come to your own conclusions. Regardless of your position, we strongly urge you to exercise your constitutional right to express your position to your elected representatives. We have included an example of how we have expressed our position.

***** ***** ***** *****

DISCLAIMER: This is considered a private and confidential message to HELP Tree Members only. We are not responsible for the accuracy of copies printed, forwarded, or sent by any party other than directly from Child and Family Protection Association.