FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Feb. 24, 2014
MEDIA INQUIRIES (EMAIL ONLY):
Contact: Rep. Gail Finney, 84th Kansas House District (Wichita)
Paid for by Finney for Kansas Campaign. Jerrold Finney, Treasurer.
Over the course of the last week, I have received an overwhelming response – both positive and negative – to a particular measure that I introduced during the 5th week of the current legislative session. The measure, which was called by many in the press as the “Spanking Bill,” would once and for all clearly define and express corporal discipline in Kansas statute. It would not, however, permit child abuse or expand the current definition of corporal discipline in our state as was incorrectly reported by the national media.
Corporal discipline has been accepted in Kansas under our state’s common law since the founding of our state. Parents have long been permitted to exercise their fundamental right to rear their children, whether that method of child rearing includes corporal discipline or not.
Kansas statutes, however, are silent on corporal discipline and the law for corporal discipline is, rather, embodied in generations of case law published by the courts, which provides for enormous differences in opinion and in application with regards to what constitutes permissible corporal discipline and impermissible child abuse. The impact of the enormous differences of opinion regarding the permissible and the impermissible among child welfare officials in the executive branch, law enforcement, prosecutors and judges has led to a disparate application of the law, where in some homes what may be deemed as permissible corporal discipline may, inversely in other homes, be deemed as impermissible child abuse. This ambiguity is leading to an unequal protection of the law in Kansas – a violation of our state and federal constitutions’ requirement of “equal protection of the laws.”
The legislation I introduced sought to statutorily define and clearly express the difference between permissible corporal discipline and impermissible child abuse for the protection of children, parents, and other caregivers of children, and to provide more direction to child welfare officials, law enforcement and the judiciary for more even application and equal outcomes. The measure was an expression of the current common law that presently exists today in Kansas – it neither constricted nor expanded the definition of corporal discipline or child abuse as it currently exists today in Kansas law. It only sought to take a judicially created law and make it a legislatively expressed statute.
Rep. Gail Finney, KS 84th Dist.