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Domestic CP - February 1999

Oakland Tribune, California, 5 February 1999

Oakland council to take swing at alternative to spanking ban

By Kathleen Kirkwood

OAKLAND -- Supporters of a "No Spanking Zone" have taken the "spank" out of their proposal, hoping to win City Council endorsement for a less conspicuous educational campaign against hitting children.

The idea drew so much ridicule when it was introduced in committee last week, as media toyed with the word "spanking," that most council members and Mayor Jerry Brown quickly distanced themselves from the concept.

But Councilmember Nate Miley and Alamo resident Jordan Riak, who came up with the proposal, say the media and the council missed the larger issue: Oakland police have a backlog of 2,000 child abuse reports to investigate and receive between 60 to 100 reports per month.

So a new resolution will be introduced to the council Tuesday, drafted by Miley (Eastmont-Seminary), sans the "s" word.

Instead of posting "No Spanking Zone" signs around the city, the council would adopt the stance that hitting children is wrong and encourage education about the subject.

It uses phrases such as corporal punishment, hitting and child abuse -- no mention of spanking.

Educational tools

But like the No Spanking Zone proposal, there would not be penalties created -- only educational tools.

"Corporal punishment of children is not a recommended practice and the city encourages all of its residents to refrain from hitting their children," the resolution states.

Councilmember Nancy Nadel (West Oakland-Downtown) said she could support the concept, but other council members contacted Thursday were noncommittal, still displeased over the controversy the No Spanking Zone proposal raised last week. Brown still maintains the issue is a private one.

Riak, whose red stop sign posters that say "No Spanking Zone," already are a common sight in hospitals and clinics, said he supports Miley's strategy.

"The original (no spanking zone proposal) was a bit more idealistic, and will be more palatable at a future date," Riak predicted.

Nevertheless, Riak still prefers the word "spank" to "hit" or "corporal punishment." He does not plan to water down his own campaign, which is getting interest overseas.

"I want to use the word people use when they hit their children," Riak said.

His nonprofit, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, aims to eliminate all physical discipline of children, on the basis it is unnecessary, damaging and perpetuates a cycle of violence.

Riak said it will take American society a few generations to overcome attitudes about hitting children, likening the issue to the struggle for women's rights and abolishing slavery.

Nine countries have such laws
Riak said Sweden and eight other countries have adopted legislation banning hitting of children, and it is only a matter of time before the rest of world follows suit.

Riak's "No Spanking Zone" signs have been translated into German and Farsi, and he recently had a request from Israel, and is planning to translate the wording into Hebrew.

"A lot of people have been waiting to see what happens in Oakland," said Riak, who has posted letters from all over the world on his Web site,

blob Previous: 22 January 1999 - Oakland council mulls spanking ban

blob Follow-up: 11 February 1999 - Milder no-spank law fails in Oakland

Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 8 February 1999

Admit it, mollycoddling parents, you've lost control

By Marianne M. Jennings

Parents have been wimps since 1968. War protests, campus sit-ins, and incessant inhaling led pre-parents at that time to conclude that the rebellion sprang from the overly oppressive demanding parenting of the World War II generation.

In the latest potty-training debate among experts, brought on by Pampers' revelation that it will now offer a size 6 diaper, data reveal that in 1957, 92 percent of children were toilet-trained by 18 months. Today's parents, determined to avoid a Nurse Ratched label, boast a success rate of 25 percent in that age group, with only 60 percent of their children potty-trained by age 3. Children tall enough for the scary rides at Disneyland are on Space Mountain in their diapers. Skilled at intricate Nintendo 64 operation and skateboarding over curbs, these kids, with their parents' blessings, remain unable to control bodily functions. Pediatricians report treating many anxious children in their soiled Pull-Ups.

When are today's parents going to figure out the two secrets to successful potty-training and parenting in general? 1. Children are difficult. 2. Parents are in charge. Children whine about potty training because it introduces a whole host of responsibilities: interrupting play once in awhile, flushing, washing hands, and zipping clothing (a feat boys will not master until their sophomore year so if parents wait for that skill as a prerequisite to potty training, Pampers will need a jock strap model).

Mollycoddling parents, with the ease of disposable diapers, are unwilling to see this aggravating process through. Potty training is not for children but for parents. It is the first great test of parenthood as well as of authority. Wait until the size 6 Pampers on this one, and you'll find yourself with a teen who has parrot hair, a pierced chin and misspelled tattoos.

Pediatricians have the source of children's anxiety wrong. It's not the potty training stressing the children, it is waffling parents who fear their own children. Parents today respond to their children in the same fashion as those teens running from the "Scream" masked killer. Children are like dogs - if they sense fear, they move in for the kill because they have a sixth sense. If they know you have a 7 a.m. flight, they'll be up all night, tumbling back into slumber at exactly 6 a.m. They throw fits in grocery stores, not your isolated back yard. They understand, better than our congressional leaders, the value of witnesses, especially when a parent is on the edge.

I myself have no fear of my children. I refuse to believe that I cannot manage little beings who have not once put their shoes on the correct feet. Just the laws of probability defy the chances of right shoe always on left foot, but they walk around looking very much like the king of Siam. Their shirts are backward, and they forget socks. Billie Bob Thornton, not fear, comes to mind when I see my children.

Fears of mistakes, and a terror of discipline born of p.c. theories that to enforce rules around children is abuse, have produced arrogant, whiney spawn of wimpy, neurotic messes. Even government-sanctioned wimpiness has begun with Oakland's proposed creation of a no-spanking zone in its fair city.

With discipline outlawed and the challenges of parenthood disdained, parents pursue other avenues for managing children. The parental tools de jure are childhood syndromes and ailments. They abound, complete with prescriptions. A story in the New York Times profiled a school nurse who spends most of her time taking Ritalin around to children in their classrooms. There has been a 700 percent increase in Ritalin use since 1990 (from 900,000 to 5 million). Despite the fact that experts agree that behavior modification, not medication, is the answer for children, most parents choose medication over behavior modification. Diapers over potty training. Drugs over discipline.

With so many school-age children on Ritalin (up to 30 percent in some schools), I was curious to know exactly how one determines that a child needs Ritalin. There is nothing precise or scientific in the diagnosis. A checklist in a Time magazine story offers the following as signs your child needs Ritalin: talks constantly; has trouble waiting for a turn; impulsively blurts out answers to questions; often misplaces school assignments, books or toys; seems not to listen; and dislikes homework. All four of mine should be on Ritalin.

Welcome to children and parenthood. In short, if your child is not behaving as an adult would in Sunday Mass, put him on drugs. Teaching a child to wait his turn is much harder and infinitely more time-consuming than medication. Some "pharmacological Calvinism" is needed.

In contentious meetings there often comes a turning point where the chairman glances around at the disarray, the talking, the hostility, the objections and the whining and comes to the realization, "I've lost control." Look around at the medicated, Pampered zombies and their completely clueless parents and repeat after me, "We've lost control here." School nurses will soon be dispensing Prozac on daily rounds. But if children are depressed, it will be because they're still in diapers in third grade and they can't figure who's in charge at home.

Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University.

Bay Area News, California, 11 February 1999

Milder no-spank law fails in Oakland

City Council votes down even a watered-down version of the 'no spanking zone' rule rejected in January

Times Staff and Wire Reports

OAKLAND -- The Oakland City Council has voted 4-2 against a no-spanking resolution that had stirred debate in recent weeks.

A resolution declaring Oakland to be a "no spanking zone" failed to pass the Public Safety Committee Jan. 26, and even a watered-down version focusing on education and alternative discipline failed to pass the full City Council on Tuesday night.

Only council members Nate Miley and Nancy Nadel, who co- sponsored the revised resolution, voted in favor of it.

The resolution -- which noted that police report between 60 and 100 child abuse calls each month -- said that corporal punishment of children is not a recommended practice. It also called for the city to research funding sources for more parenting classes.

Councilman Dick Spees said he favored better education about alternative discipline but hesitated to have government step into a family home. Councilman Laurence Reid abstained

Jordan Riak of Alamo, executive director of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, was disappointed that the council failed to pass the non-binding resolution. Riak drafted a 1987 state law that outlawed paddling in public schools.

Riak said nine European countries have no-spanking laws, but in the United States, Minnesota is the only state that includes the spanking of a minor under assault and battery.

He said he plans to take his fight to Philadelphia, where a Montgomery County pastor has been charged with the beating death of a boy in his custody.

blob Previous: 5 February 1999 - Oakland council to take swing at alternative to spanking ban


San Francisco Chronicle, California, 11 February 1999

No-Spanking Zone Swatted In Oakland -- City Council knocks amended resolution

By Chip Johnson, columnist

The majority of the Oakland City Council apparently wants to reserve a parent's right to spank unruly children.

Or they simply took pleasure in spanking supporters of a resolution to declare the city a "No Spanking Zone."

Thordie Ashley, a politically active Oakland resident, brought the plan to his office last November.

Ashley got the idea from Jordan Riak, executive director of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, who publicly urged city officials to put up "No Spanking Zone" signs around Oakland.

Ashley and Riak met on KSBT's Morning Beat show last fall.

Riak is the author of a bill that outlawed paddlings in California public schools in 1987.

Thank goodness the council voted 5 to 3 against the resolution on Tuesday, putting an end to another goofy plan that brought the city the kind of national attention it doesn't need.

A phone operator who recognized Riak's name when I called for his number had an opinion about the plan.

"Yeah. Most of us kind of laughed at it, anybody who's got kids," she said.

City officials, including Mayor Jerry Brown, said the plan creeped a little too far into parent's rights to decide how to raise a child.

No one supports an adult who physically abuses a child, or another adult for that matter. That's pretty obvious, and some resolutions are nothing more than politically correct posturing.

Nonetheless, supporters offered an emotional plea for some statement from the city endorsing their position.

Joe DeVries, who is an aide to Oakland City Councilman Nate Miley, authored both versions of the plan. DeVries said supporters hoped that they could salvage a victory by changing the wording of the resolution after a council committee shot it down two weeks ago.

"We wanted to pass something that sent the message, but we used the wrong phraseology," DeVries said. "The no spanking zone was wrong."

The marketing strategy seemed fine, it was the intrusive implication of the message that was flawed.

Riak also has received calls from interested parties in Anchorage, Houston and Los Angeles.

He was bitter about his Oakland council experience, and said a videotape segment of his presentation on the subject was sabotaged.

Riak also admonished his council critics for not properly researching the subject.

The second draft of the resolution called for the city to condemn corporal punishment, provide literature and look into funding parenting classes.

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