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Domestic CP - April 2005

Corpun file 16099

Dallas Morning News, Texas, 18 April 2005

Pro-paddling bill sails through House

Under plan, prosecutors must show spanking is more than discipline

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN In case any hesitant paddle-wielding parent is confused, the Texas House just affirmed your right to use it on your kid's backside.

Or, if you're not around to administer the whipping, you can pass it off to an aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbor or teacher without fear of prosecution, under legislation that passed the House without debate Monday.

It's OK just as long as the swats are administered in the interest of "reasonable punishment."

"Parents are saying, 'We want to make sure the state doesn't intervene when we're trying to discipline our child,' " said the bill's author, Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston.

Bill opponent and fellow Houston Democratic Rep. Alma Allen, a former high school principal, called paddling a "hand-down from slavery, where people learned to control other people."

Ms. Allen's bill banning corporal punishment in schools is stuck in the House Public Education Committee. "I don't ever see a need to hit another human being. We only hit children because they are smaller than us," she said.

Under current law, Texas parents can already pull out the paddle as a means of disciplining their children.

If they're charged with child abuse, they can beat the rap if they prove it was simple discipline. Mr. Dutton's legislation shifts the burden to prosecutors to prove that the spanking was more than that.

Mr. Dutton, a lawyer, once defended a woman charged with child abuse after she whipped her teen granddaughter with a cord when she didn't come home all weekend.

"That grandmother's question to the judge was, 'What should I do? Should I send her to her room for timeout? ... Or should I do something drastic to try and turn her life around?' " he said.

The House passed similar legislation last session, only to watch it die in a Senate committee.

House members on Monday expounded on their own lives, wearing as a badge of honor the whippings they got or were threatened with as children.

"We didn't have alternative schools," said Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington. "We just had swats."

Corpun file 16715

Fox News Network, 26 April 2005

The O'Reilly Factor

Parent Group Objects to Corporal Punishment

Bill O'Reilly

O'REILLY: "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: Should the government tell you how to raise your children? Most of us would say no.

But in Texas, they are voting on a new law that would expressly give parents the right to spank their kids, grandparents as well.

Joining us now from Oakland, California, is Jordan Riak, the director of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education.

This is very strange, Mr. Riak. Right now you can, if you're a parent in Texas, spank your children. But if you're a grandparent, you can't spank your grandchildren.

And now they want to expand that into the school system. And they are having a whole big debate -- and they will pass this law -- that will make corporate punishment legal in parents' hands, grandparents' hands, and the school with parental permission. You object to that, though, right?

JORDAN RIAK, PARENTS AND TEACHERS AGAINST VIOLENCE IN EDUCATION: Well, let me correct you on one point. It's already legal in Texas schools. There are currently about 74,000 paddlings per year in Texas schools. And as you pointed out, it's already legal for family members to strike their children.

What the legislature is doing, in my estimation, is marching backwards. You have a state that has a child fatality rate, a rate of fatality as a result of abuse, which is 65 percent higher than the national average. It's up 11 percent in one year, and it's doubled in the past decade.

Now, a responsible legislature should be working to reduce those numbers to zero. So what they've done, in fact, is declared open season on children, and we're going to see those fatality rates climbing.

O'REILLY, HOST: All right. Now, we asked...

RIAK: I don't know how the legislatures sleep at night.

O'REILLY: Well, we asked -- we asked Representative Harold Dutton of Houston why they're going through the exercise, because as you rightly pointed out, they really don't need to change the law unless they want to include -- grandparents are the only ones that would gain corporal punishment under this.

But he said, quote, "Most Texans are confused where they have the right to use corporal punishment within the home. They want to clarify the situation." Now, are you against all spanking?

RIAK: I'm against -- I would like to see children have the same protection against assault and battery that you and I have.

O'REILLY: All right, so you -- if my little kid, 6 years old, runs into the street, and I tell him five times not to and he still does, and I give him a whack on the bottom, you're going to tell me I broke the law?

RIAK: Well, I'm going to tell you that there are a lot better ways to protect children from traffic than whacking them.

O'REILLY: But that's none of your business. If it's my child -- if it's my child, it's none of your business how I choose to discipline the child, if I don't beat the child, if I give the child a whack and the kid remembers the association. Why is it Jordan Riak's business because you think a time-out might be more effective? Aren't you intruding on my rights as a parent?

RIAK: Well, you know, that's exactly the same argument that wife beaters raised 20 years ago.

O'REILLY: Really?

RIAK: How I treat my wife is not the government's business.

O'REILLY: No, I mean, wife beating is wife beating. A whack on the behind is a whack on the behind. Certainly, you're not correlating the two.

RIAK: Well, when you -- once you open the door to assault and battery, that door, when it's open a crack, you're going to have people taking terrific advantage of it. And the result is in Texas, 204 children were killed last year as a result of abuse.

O'REILLY: All right. Look, we -- there is no program on the air that campaigns to the safety of children more than "The Factor." But I think you're making a huge mistake here by telling American parents that society has a right to come into their home and tell them how to raise their children. And that's pretty much what they are doing.

Beating -- beating and abuse, I'm with you all the way. But the authorities should be able to distinguish between a whack on the behind and beating and abuse.

RIAK: Well, the best way to resolve the dilemma and to remove all the ambiguity is to do what 13 other countries have done, and that is to give children the same protection that adults have against assault and battery.

O'REILLY: Sir, your assault and battery is my whack on the behind.

That's where the problem comes.

RIAK: A prosecutor -- a prosecutor will decide, just as they decide in all other cases. Why should children have less protection?

O'REILLY: If I'm unlucky enough to live in Marin County, and I whack my little kid on the behind because he goes in the street, that prosecutor might charge me with a felony, where in another county, the prosecutor will say it's a whack on the behind.

I think you're on dangerous turf here, Mr. Riak. I appreciate your concern for the kids, but I don't think they should be -- I think but abuse is abuse, and the laws should stand. Appreciate your time.

RIAK: But the laws should protect the children. Children need protection.

O'REILLY: All right.

Our new poll question asks did you or do you spank your kids? All right. That's Yes or no.

We'll be back with the most controversial story of the evening. Al Sharpton in a moment.


Content and Programming Copyright 2005 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 Federal Document Clearing House, Inc., which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Corpun file 16121

The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Massachusetts, 30 April 2005

Plymouth father is arrested for using belt on son, 12

By Tamara Race
The Patriot Ledger

PLYMOUTH - A father who used a belt to spank his 12-year-old son over forgotten homework is facing a felony assault charge and an investigation by the state Department of Social Services.

Charles S. Enloe, 42, of 4 Cortelli Court, Plymouth, hit his son on the buttocks three times with a belt after the boy forgot his homework assignment at school, police said.

He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Enloe said he was surprised at his arrest, but that he doesn't blame police for doing their job.

"I never knew it would be considered assault with a deadly weapon," Enloe said. "And it shouldn't be. It shouldn't be a crime if it's discipline. I know there are parents out there that abuse their children, but I'm definitely not one of them. But police have to follow the letter of the law. My father was a police officer. I'm not angry at them, and I don't blame my son."

Enloe said he hopes the courts will dismiss the charge after reviewing the facts. "I have no previous record," he said.

He said his son is still living with him despite the incident. He and the boy's mother are divorced, according to the police.

The mother obtained a restraining order against Enloe on her son's behalf, but the order was temporary and has expired, he said.

"The incident got blown out of proportion," Enloe said.

Police Capt. Michael Botieri said officers have more leeway about arresting a parent for domestic violence when an open hand is used for spanking.

"When a parent uses an instrument to discipline, it makes it more difficult for us," Botieri said. "The belt pushed this over the edge."

The incident happened at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, and left no marks or bruises, according to police.

The Department of Social Services is investigating the complaint after its Cape Cod area office received a report of suspected abuse on Friday. DSS spokeswoman Denise Monteiro said the allegation was made by a person or agency required by law to report any suspected incident of child abuse. She would not identify the person.

Police, teachers, health care workers and clergy are all required to report cases of suspected abuse in Massachusetts.

Monteiro said the case is not considered an emergency and said the DSS has up to 10 days to investigate the report. Monteiro said the department usually interviews family members, the child's pediatrician, school officials, neighbors and others. "The allegations have to be met with evidence," she said.

The boy told police his father hit him with the belt for forgetting his homework, and said he would be hit six times wearing just his underwear if he forgot his homework again, police said.

Fearing the promised punishment, the boy called his mother Wednesday when he forgot his homework a second time, police said.

The boy and his mother, Diana Dematteo of Sandwich, reported the incident to police Wednesday.

Enloe told police he used the belt to "lightly" strike the boy three times on the bottom for disciplinary reasons.

His son had improved academically since coming to live with him in March and he "acted out of love," the police report quotes Enloe as saying.

Enloe was arrested and charged at the station.

Enloe pleaded innocent Thursday to the charge and was released on his promise to return to court on June 1.

Monteiro, the DSS spokeswoman, said that under the Massachusetts corporal punishment law, it is not illegal for a guardian to strike a child physically or spank a child so long as the child isn't injured or "left with a bruise, bumps, cuts and you would also consider the frequency of the punishment."

In 1997, the Rev. Donald Cobble of Woburn found himself thrust into the national spotlight when his then 9-year-old son, Judah, asked a teacher not to send a note home about his school behavior because he feared that Cobble would spank him with a belt, as he had done before.

The teacher contacted social service workers, who found that this form of discipline posed a "substantial risk of injury." But two years and $62,000 in legal fees later, Cobble's name was removed from the state registry of child abusers after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court exonerated him, saying that Judah suffered only temporary marks as a result of the spanking. The case was closed.

Copyright 2005 The Patriot Ledger

blob Follow-up: 1 May 2005 - 'I did it out of love': Felony charge for father who spanked son with belt

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Copyright Colin Farrell 2005
Page updated: November 2005