Lieber introduces revised spanking bill
Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Sally Lieber
By Jeremy Lipps, Bay City News Service
February 23, 2007
SACRAMENTO (BCN) - When it comes to disciplining California
children, an open hand is in but belts and switches are out, according
to a bill introduced Thursday by Democratic San Jose area Assemblywoman
Assembly bill 755, designed specifically to protect children
from overzealous discipline methods, rules out some traditional
forms of discipline like the use of a switch or a belt.
"The vast majority of child abuse victims and fatalities
are young children,'' Lieber said. "Too often the abuse begins
as some form of discipline. Existing law is clearly not doing
enough to protect the youngest, smallest, most vulnerable members
of our society.''
Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, of Irvine, had expressed concern for
early drafts of the bill and said he intends to keep a close eye
on the new bill.
"I'm going to remain a skeptical observer and watch it very
carefully,'' DeVore said.
The Republican assemblyman said his concerns stem from what he
said were parents' rights to privacy and whether this new law
would actually protect children or put otherwise good parents
in trouble with the law.
"I am encouraged by the direction she has taken,'' DeVore
said regarding the revised bill.
The bill also covers the vigorous shaking of a child under the
age of three and the use of an implement such as electric cord,
a stick or a broom.
More parenting no-no's are also mentioned like kicking, burning
or cutting children, interfering with breathing, hitting a child
in the face or head, hitting a child with a closed fist or threatening
a child with a deadly weapon.
The bill would also allow for prosecutors to charge "baby
shaking'' as a felony or a misdemeanor based on the circumstances,
according to AB 755.
According to Lieber, a trend in court has seen defendants hiding
behind "discipline'' to escape punishment. AB 755 also targets
"This is a carefully crafted bill targeting the most common
forms of abuse,'' Lieber said.
"Good parents have no reason for concern as a result of
this legislation, while abusers will no longer be able to hide
behind the defense of reasonable parental discipline.''
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