Slapping parents

A California legislator named Sally Lieber wants to ban spanking (or slapping or otherwise hitting) children three or under. The San Jose Mercury News interviews a legislator, a professor and a parenting teacher/mom who are dubious about the idea.

But Lieber is optimistic that lawmakers will find her proposal hard to resist. For the record, she does not have children and says she was not slapped as a child. But she does have a cat named Snoop, which her veterinarian told her never to hit.

“And if you never hit a cat,” Lieber said, “you should never hit a kid.”

Yet there is no law in California against cat slapping.

About Joanne


  1. It is a representative form of government.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I assume there is companion legislating making it illegal for kids to aggravate parents? If so, I’ll sign on.

  3. Bill Leonard says:

    Lieber has no children, so I suppose that qualifies her to mandate how 30 million people or so in California can raise or discipline theirs.

  4. Mark Roulo says:

    What I find most amusing about this is that the
    younger ones are the ones for which spanking is most
    useful. I can explain to a 5 year old that I
    DO NOT want him to run into the street. And he
    can understand it. Explaining this to an 18 month
    old doesn’t work so well, but consistently spanking
    every time he tries to go into the street gets the
    message across very quickly. Same thing for stuff
    like trying to play with electical outlets …

    -Mark Roulo

  5. We don’t send cats to school, either.


  6. Indigo Warrior says:

    We don’t send cats to school, either.

    No, but we do send dogs to dog obedience schools.

  7. wayne martin says:

    > Lieber conceived the idea while chatting with a family friend
    > and legal expert in children’s issues worldwide. The friend,
    > Thomas Nazario, said that while banning spanking might
    > seem like a radical step for the United States, more than
    > 10 European countries already do so. Sweden was
    > the first, in 1979.

    While it’s true that some European countries have passed such laws, is there a need here in California? What hard data does this legislator have that a large number of parents are beating their children so that these kids need Lieber’s statehouse protection? This is more knee-jerk Liberalism that makes a lot of headlines, but produces little in the end.

    The enforcement of such a prohibition would be all but impossible. Is the State going to incarcerate a mother for spanking a child? Or take the child away for such a parent? Who then assumes the financial and legal responsibilities for such children but the taxpayers? The Foster Care programs are already poorly managed and over-subscribed, not to mention the courts that would be required to try the cases and somehow be involved in the oversight of those kids taken from “abusive” parents.

    I’ve refreshed my email addresses for California Legislators this morning. Seems it’s going to be another long year of lunacy at the Statehouse this year.

  8. Hunter McDaniel says:

    Spanking is probably the most misunderstood of all parenting tools. It can be useful in some contexts between the ages of roughly 2 and 7. For kids yonger than that it is incomprehensible, and for kids older than that it is increasingly counterproductive. Which means that you had better set the tone for how things run in your house before your kids get to be school age, because there’s no extremity of punishment you can use to correct that later.

    In my house (and my parents) there was one and only one offence that could bring on a spanking – open defiance, or its passive/agressive cousin “back talk”. As important as it is to keep out of the street and stay away from outlets, those offences got a long lecture, not a spanking.

    I’m not sure where the push to outlaw spanking really comes from – how much is real concern for children vs. an opportunity to poke social conservatives in the eye. It’s comforting to think such a law is unenforceable, but don’t be surprised when some kid reports his parents to the kindergarten counselor and unknowingly destroys his own family.

    There are some parents who take physical punishment too far, but IMHO they are the same parents who will also carry verbal punishment too far, resorting to belittlement and scorn. There is no way to legislate good parenting. Raising kids is a hard job – and it is bad policy to take any useful tool away from parents trying to do that job.

  9. What bothers me (if you read the full article) is how some people use the terms “spank,” “whip,” and “beat” interchangably…

  10. Not only is she childless, she’s also “strongly pro-choice” (according to So in her world, if you really want to abuse your child with impunity, do it while the little tyke’s still in the womb. Just make sure you actually kill him; if he survives, you’re guilty of child abuse…

    What a clueless hypocrite she is.

  11. Bill Leonard wrote:

    Lieber has no children, so I suppose that qualifies her to mandate how 30 million people or so in California can raise or discipline theirs.

    The number of votes she got qualifies her to mandate how 30 million people or so in California can raise or discipline their children. What other qualifications would she need to introduce or vote on a law?

  12. Wayne Martin says:

    > The number of votes she got qualifies her to mandate
    > how 30 million people or so in California can raise
    > or discipline their children.

    Lieber received about 67,000 votes in her district during the last election. This bill, like all others, has to receive 50% 1 of the other elected representatives, as well as the approval of the Governor before it becomes law.

    > What other qualifications would she need to
    > introduce or vote on a law?

    In California, any person can initiate a process with will result in a new law’s coming into existence, as well as the revocation of an existing law, via the Ballot Initiative process. Once on the Ballot, every voter gets a chance to say “Yea” or “Ne”.

  13. Devilbunny says:

    Yet there is no law in California against cat slapping.One of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time. Thank you.

  14. forty-two says:

    Although I’m probably just as against spanking as Lieber is, I really don’t think it comes within the government’s purview. As distasteful and ultimately counterproductive as the practice may be, I don’t think it deserves to be classified as child abuse (though some parents do carry it that far, which can be addressed through current laws).

    As well, it would be hard to enforce without seriously infringing on privacy, and I would hate to set a precedent about legislating parenting choices beyond what is already on the books.

    Although, I doubt they’d remove the kids from the home as a first step – mandated parenting classes to give them more and better options seems more likely. Something that might actually be useful if only the government wouldn’t inevitably mess it up.

  15. Kevin in las Vegas says:

    Slapping and spanking are tools for emotionally lazy parents! Please take the time to properly teach your child to respond in a positive fashion with choices they may understand. I have an active 5 year old boy who requires no physical discipline in order to behave in a proper manner. It just takes time, focus and energy on the part of both the parent and child. Stay on point and your rewards will be immense!