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Domestic CP - June 2005

Corpun file 15981

Daily News Tribune, Waltham, Massachusetts, 8 June 2005

Spanking your kid may soon be illegal

By Emelie Rutherford
Daily News Staff

BOSTON -- Two weeks after Brookline's Town Meeting passed a resolution discouraging spanking by parents, lawmakers yesterday considered banning so-called corporal punishment on children across the state. A bill filed by an Arlington lawmaker and backed by more than 60 residents from communities including Waltham and Newton would make it illegal to inflict "the willful infliction of physical pain" -- including spanking -- on children under 18. "We must recognize that corporal punishment is risky behavior that can lead to injury and death," Arlington's Susan Lawrence said in a written statement she gave to the Legislature's joint Judiciary Committee yesterday.

State Rep. James Marzilli, D-Arlington, filed the bill at Lawrence's request but did not testify yesterday.

The bill defines corporal punishment as willfully inflicting pain through acts including: hitting, whipping, slapping, spanking, kicking, biting, striking with an object, pinching, punching, poking eyes, twisting limbs, boxing ears, shaking, "hot-saucing" (putting undiluted Tabasco sauce or soap in the mouth) and administering electric shocks.

The legislation would add the ban on corporal punishment on children to the state's law banning assault and battery on children, which calls for imprisonment in some cases of bodily injury.

Deana Pollard, an associate professor at Texas Southern University's law school, told the Judiciary Committee yesterday "there is no question this would pass Constitutional scrutiny."

The measure is not about prosecuting parents for spanking but is about preventing abuse, Pollard said. In 41 percent of cases where a child is killed by parents, she said, the parents raised the defense they were using corporal punishment.

"Massachusetts can be the first state to wake up to this," said Pollard.

Lawrence presented the committee with facts showing corporal punishment harms children physically and emotionally.

Spanking can cause damage to kids' spines, nerves and testes, according to a book on physical punishment Lawrence cited. Spanking can lead to emotional, social and learning problems, according to a report she referenced.

Lawrence said in her statement, "It is our duty as responsible adults to act with their interests in mind and grant them legal protection from assault."

The bill states it is not intended to separate kids from their parents, but is meant to encourage alternate forms of discipline.

Brookline's Ron Goldman, a doctor who fought for the measure that passed Brookline's Town Meeting, also backs the bill filed by Marzilli.

The nonbinding resolution that passed in Brookline on May 26 encourages parents and caregivers not to use corporal punishment. The Brookline resolution is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation.

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Corpun file 16059

Malden Observer, Massachusetts, 17 June 2005

A little to the Right, please

Spare the rod and spoil the moral zealot

By Gene Pinkham

With my childhood being in the 1960s, the specter of corporal punishment reared its menacing head in many forms as it did with most of us at the time.

At my house its most frequent manifestation was the Italian grandmother wielding "the wooden spoon," or the occasional threat of receiving "a Baccala." I didn't know it was a smelly fish. I just knew I didn't want one.

I also recall a routine from a Bill Cosby album titled "To Russell, my brother, whom I slept with," where Cosby described "The Belt," a disciplinary tool that their father kept on hand as a last resort. No one had ever seen The Belt, but they had heard of it. I never got the Baccala either, but the threat was always there.

Now Jordan Riak, executive director of a group with the innocuous name, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education has taken his crusade which started in California to the Bay State. A bill, sponsored by State Rep. James Marzilli, Jr. of Arlington on behalf of Project No Spank seeks to end corporal punishment in the commonwealth.

Riak professes that not only were his three children not spanked, but that he himself grew up in a spanking-free environment. This may explain why Riak is an insufferable zealot whose message is often inflammatory and so outside the parameters of academic discussion.

It seems that Riak is not used to anyone saying "No" to him. Riak recently displayed the attributes of the petulant child on WRKO's Jon DePetro Show where he lambasted parents, mostly mothers who want to remain in control of the spanking option, which the bill that was introduced to the General Court on Tuesday, June 7, would take away.

Riak is so anti-violence that he even wrestles with the concept of self-defense. The Riak Bill has evolved in intensity in concert with his zealotry. When he first proposed his No Spank Zone in Oakland, Calif., it was a unenforceable ordinance that city councilors feared, which if passed, could lead to the spanking police going into people's homes and prosecuting them if taken to the next level of enforcement the way seat-belt laws evolved into to primary enforcement.

Riak likes to use the seat-belt law analogy as something that people just had to get used to when the government tells you how to run your life and that parents will just have to get used to not spanking their children even if they're on the verge of calling Nanny 911 on their out of control nippers. No Spank says it's not out to prosecute parents. But since the organization's worldwide goal is the emancipation of children, you can be assured that children will be appraised of their new found rights in school.

The bill mixes in obvious abuse with common sense butt whacks. This is where Riak's own prejudice blurs the line that every parent knows or should know not to cross and creates a zero-tolerance straight jacket on parents. He is a laissez-faire California parent.

His argument that everyone he interviewed in his prison job was spanked as a child is a canard, as anyone in the Department of Corrections could tell you. Because, everyone in prison is innocent, and if they did do the crime, it's someone else's fault. Usually the parents, or lack thereof. Of course since No Spank's own Web site statistics show that 93 percent of parents admit to using corporal punishment then the nation should be under lock-down.

But let's put Riak's own California non-judgmental system of child rearing to the test. Let's say there was a Marin County couple who never spanked or rebuked their son. They didn't draw the line when he started a collection of violent Gangsta Rap music when he was 14. They didn't put their foot down when at the age of 16, he dropped out of school. They didn't interfere when he abruptly decided to become a Muslim after reading the Biography of Malcolm X. They didn't object when his circle of friends included Chechen gunmen and then went to Afghanistan to "find himself."

But yet, they were shocked when their son who was raised in a self-obsessed, spanking free, non-judgmental, positive reinforcement environment showed up at an al Qaeda fortress at Mazar-i-Shariff seeking the discipline he should have gotten from his parents from the Taliban. His father said his son deserved a kick in the butt for not telling them what he was doing, but "they'll give him a hug instead." No Mr. Lindh, you should have given your son, Johnny Walker Lindh, a spanking, or at least "a Baccala."

Copyright of CNC and Herald Interactive Advertising Systems, Inc.

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