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Kansas: Firmly Aboard the WTF Train

Look, Kansas, I'm sure life there is hard. You're flat. You're not shaped like a boot, or a mitten, or even a penis, but just a boring old rectangle. L. Frank Baum specifically used you as as the dull grey foil to highlight the most brightly colored and wonderful land of all. I get it. You've had a rough deal.

But seriously, you have got to stop with your bullshit. If you can't be pretty on the outside Kansas, work on being pretty in the inside. Don't start legislation to legalize discrimination against gays, Kansas. Don't buy into false science and start spreading b.s. about fluoride. And for the love of all things holy, what will you do next? Write a bill that gives parents permission to abuse their children?


Wait. Shit. You did????

Earlier this month, a bill was introduced by a Kansas lawmaker that would give parents, caregivers, and school officials permission to hit children. Now, current law in Kansas (and it must be admitted - every state) allows parents some leeway in physically disciplining a child- these rules are fairly loose; basically, don't leave a mark, don't use objects or hit the child in the head. However, Rep. Gail Finney thinks that the current rules are far too vague and don't take enough into account, and she's proposing in her bill modifications such as:

"up to 10 forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child."

Sure - that's a spank, right? I'm not sure why 10 is the magic number but 11 is child abuse, but I'm sure Rep Finney has science behind this. This doesn't sound so bad, yet, even if you're not in favor of spanking.

Except the bill goes on to add a lot more interesting things like: the use of "reasonable physical force" to hold the child down while spanking them, AND this:

"acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result."


So you're totally allowed to hold your child down hard enough to bruise them, as long as you don't leave a mark when you're actually doing the spanking? "Listen, officer, see those bruises on Johnny's arms and stomach? Those were just from where I was holding him down so his ma could spank him. I know my legal rights!". I mean, this makes sense, because it's just the "tender" skin of the child that's really the problem. Toughen up, kids!

Another (yes, there is more!) horrible provision of this law is the rights it gives people who are NOT parents to harm children. Caregivers and school officials can be given permission to use corporal punishment on children by their parents, including students over 18 who are still in high school. That's right - the law specifically states that even a legal adult can still be physically assaulted by a school official. I don't even know how it's legal period to allow that.


And why the need for all of this to begin with? Well, let's ask Rep Finney herself:

"What's happening is there are some children that are very defiant and they're not minding their parents, they're not minding school personnel"



Now - the bill did NOT go through, as luckily there were still enough sane people left in Kansas to listen to the many school officials and children's advocates that were immediately up in arms at the law. I cannot believe that for a second, however, that this politician proposed this bill thinking she wouldn't get support from it, and I can't believe there is a person that sits down and writes out this malarkey. I can't believe that she gets paid to do it as part of her job, or that our tax money is what funds that.


Maybe I'm oversensitive to this issue because I was an abused kid, and my dad actually brought me up to think that child services were the WORST people in the world, basically government sanctioned kidnappers who would steal children from their loving parents at the drop of a hat. And while I'm sure accidents happen that over blame parents who are generally good, I have a feeling that like false rape accusations, these are an insanely small percentage compared to the amount of abuse that doesn't get caught, reported, or taken seriously.

The only silver lining to this nonsense is this amazing article response from Psychology Today entitled "A Stand Your Ground Law For Children", full of delightfully (where here delightful is a word used to mean "I'd laugh out loud if it weren't so untenable a premise) sarcastic ideas like:

Children who are being beaten excessively by their parents should not be required to run away and hide. They should be allowed access to one of the guns (If the child is under ten, a 22 would suffice. It would be unwise to permit him, or her, to shoot a higher caliber weapon one-handed since he, or she, may be in danger of injuring himself/herself in the backlash.) If a parent threatens the child with no more T.V. (or if he feels threatened), the child should be encouraged to defend himself with the gun (i.e. shoot the parent in the face.) This would set an example for all the other parents on the block who might otherwise be inclined to throw their children against the wall.


Oh Kansas. I'm starting to feel a bit like Auntie Em myself:

When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now.

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