PITTSBURG, KS.--- A proposed bill in Kansas could change what is appropriate when disciplining kids. The current state law allows spanking that does not leave marks. Now, a Kansas lawmaker has proposed House Bill 2699, which would legalize spanking a child with an open palm up to 10 times. One local doctor says physical discipline of a child could have lasting effects on them.
"When I first heard it, I couldn't believe that someone from the legislature would be proposing this," said Dr. Joann McCleeary, CHC-SEK Clinical Psychologist.
Proposed House Bill 2699 could allow parents in Kansas to spank a child up to ten times, which could leave visible marks.
"This seems to be an area of the country where there is the highest level of abuse, and I don't think that's an appropriate law," said Dr. McCleeary.
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas Clinical Psychologist Joann McCleeary says the best way to discipline a child is with words.
"Can parents communicate with their children? Do those children feel valued and important to their parents enough so they want to please their parents," said Dr. McCleeary.
Dr. McCleeary says spanking should only be used as a way to teach children.
"There are some things that are dangerous and children need to know those are dangerous, when they're really little. When they get bigger, I don't think there is a need for that," said Dr. McCleeary.
The proposed bill, with parent consent, would also allow teachers and child care service to physically discipline children.
"They lose their ability to trust adults and they begin to see any kind of discipline as abuse," said Dr. McCleeary.
Dr. McCleeary says a child needs to have at least one place where they feel safe.
"At home is the first one, but at school is the second. And if we don't do that, were going to raise generations of abusers," said Dr. McCleeary.
The bill was introduced by Wichita Democratic Representative Gail Finney, she could not be reached for comment, but a statement on her website says quote "This legislation is not intended to legalize child abuse." KODE spoke with the Office of Republican Representative John Rubins, who says the bill will not be heard in the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee.
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