Tuesday, November 27, 2007


From the BostonHerald.com:

Parents who spank their kids - even in their own homes - would be slapped by the long arm of the law under an Arlington nurse’s proposal to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to outlaw corporal punishment.

Kathleen Wolf’s proposed legislation will be debated at a State House hearing tomorrow morning.

If signed into law, parents would be prohibited from forcefully laying a hand on any child under age 18 unless it was to wrest them from danger, lest they be charged with abuse or neglect.

Rep. Jay Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat, submitted the 61-year-old Wolf’s petition at her request, but is not taking a position for or against corporal punishment.

“He does recognize and understand the concern many would have on legislating parental rights,” said Sean Fitzgerald, Kaufman’s chief of staff, “but the problem is the boundary is often overstepped. The right to hit should never be the right to hurt.”

Charles Enloe, 45, of Plymouth, knows a little something about that. In 2005, he was infamously arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon for taking a belt to his then 12-year-old son during an argument over homework.

The charges were later dropped and Enloe told the Herald yesterday the experience “didn’t change my views at all. I believe discipline starts at home. Are they going to start legislating that you can’t raise your voice to your kids? That you can’t tell them when to go to bed? We’ll be communists then.”

The state Supreme Judicial Court agreed in principle when it ruled in 1999 that parents can spank their kids provided they don’t threaten bodily injury.

Corporal punishment in the home is already illegal in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the Ukraine.

In 1979, Sweden became the first country in the world to ban spanking. Anders Erickson, spokesman for the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C., said in the 1960s 53 percent of Swedes backed corporal punishment of children. By the 1990s, that number was less than 10 percent.

“There are other ways and means to bring up children than to beat them,” Erickson said. “Much better ways.”

An ombudsman is available to children in Sweden to report allegations of corporal punishment. Parents face jail time if it’s found they’ve stepped out of line

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