Thursday, January 18, 2007

Don't You People Have Anything Better to Do?

I'm pretty sure that I'm not becoming a Republican in my old age, but there are just some things the government has no business sticking their collective nose in. A few examples (by no means all or even the most egregious):
  • Google searches. The one that was recently used in an article about the intrusion was chilling and just sad. It clearly painted the picture of a woman near the of her rope and in need of help. Fortunately, the search string also showed that she was actively searching for that help.
  • The US Mail. For hundreds of years, the mail of people living in the US was protected by federal law from search and seizure, even from the nosy neighbors who wanted to know what was in the brown paper package. Or just how much your credit card bills were. Now, thanks to a recent signing statement, the president has declared that he has the authority to open that mail to see what you're up to. All in the name of our safety, they tell us. You know, just in case Osama is sending Christmas cards.
  • Attempting to prevent a sports team from leaving town or taking the name with them when they do go.
And now we have one more intrusion to add to the list: Legislation being drafted by California assemblywoman Sally Lieber, a democrat from Mountain View, that would make it a misdemeanor to spank a child up to the age of three. Lieber says that the bill will be written broadly enough to prevent any corporeal punishment: spanking, smacking, hitting, punching, etc. I'm pretty sure that punching a child already classifies as child abuse, but do the rest? Should they?

I don't spank the girls--though some days I might really want to--but I have swatted Hannah on the butt once or twice. I don't consider that to be spanking and I'm guessing that, for many other parents, there is a huge difference between the two. Maybe my view is a little askew because I was spanked as a child, as were all of my siblings. And it wasn't just with a hand either. Sometimes it was a switch that we had to choose ourselves; sometimes it was the belt; sometimes a wooden spoon. Sometimes we deserved it, sometimes not so much.

So where would it end? Are you allowed to smack your child's hand away from a hot stove or an electrical outlet? Who reports it? Can a neighbor call in what they think might have been a spanking? If it was in actuality just playful swat, does it become another case of "he said/she said?" Who decides? Who will prosecute it? The courts already seem to be overflowing.

In the San Jose Mercury News story on this--what's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah, lunacy--"Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, said that he personally agrees children under 3 shouldn't be spanked but has no desire to make it law. 'Where do you stop? At what point are we going to say we should pass a bill that every parent has to read a minimum of 30 minutes every night to their child?'"

Even child psychologists disagree on the value or harm of spanking. And there is an enormous difference between the occasional spanking and actual abuse. So perhaps the state legislature's time would be better spent tightening up the oversight of the agencies who are responsible for protecting at-risk children. Like the three boys who died after being thrown into the San Francisco Bay by a mentally ill mother. Or the father who was just convicted of involuntary manslaughter for beating his son to death. Now that might be worthy of Ms. Lieber's time and effort: Stop allowing involuntary manslaughter as an option in cases where someone beat their child to death.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I am really hoping this spanking bull crap goes where it belongs.. in the garbage. It is already illegal to abuse someone. Doctors, teachers, child care professionals and numerous other civil servants are required to report if they suspect child abuse. Forget about all the chatta chatta about if spanking is ok.... this legislation is pure idiocy. This representative needs to look at the other post you did about not judging mothers... for instance over something like SPANKING when there are those children who are TRULY abused. What's more, how would this be enacted? As if social services doesn't have it's hands beyond full doing their darndest to help families in true crisis. Uck, this just makes me so mad. And yes I was spanked. By my mom on her whims and by my dad when I *really* earned it. I don't feel as scarred by the spanking as I do by the societally acceptable alcohol and drug abuse the pervaded my childhood.. what would they do about that?!?!