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May 6, 2008

Assembly Bill 2943: Banning Corporal Punishment

Note:
This legislative information represents a joint effort by Roy Hanson’s Child and Family Protection Association and Home School Legal Defense Association.

Author:
State Assembly Member Sally Lieber

Summary:
Assembly Member Sally Lieber has reintroduced her “anti-spanking” bill with a new number—A.B. 2943. Last year she attempted to push her bill, A.B. 755, through the legislature, and it was officially stopped on January 31, 2008, when it failed to be passed out of the Assembly. Identical to her failed A.B. 755, A.B. 2943 would have the practical effect of making a non-injurious spanking with an object such as a ruler, folded newspaper, small paddle, etc. illegal. After being arrested, charged, and tried in a criminal court, parents could receive up to one year in jail and lose custody of their children. When Lieber claims that her bill only deals with child abuse, remember that she has stated repeatedly that all spanking, by definition, is child abuse. Her strategy in A.B. 2943 is to treat all spanking with an object as criminal child abuse. She has deliberately failed to make any distinction between spanking as a method of discipline and true child abuse.

A.B. 2943 would amend Penal Code 273a, which currently makes it a crime to cause unjustifiable pain, harm, or injury to any minor child. The instructions to a jury which are mandated by the current version of A.B. 2943 would state that a jury may consider that physical pain or mental suffering inlicted upon a child is unjustifiable if it is caused by any of the seven kinds of actions, which are also listed in A.B. 2943. The first of the seven actions listed is “the use of an implement, including, but not limited to, a stick, a rod, a switch, an electrical cord, an extension cord, a belt, a broom, or a shoe.” This first action includes the act of spanking with an object other than using one’s hand. Because these items would be listed in the Penal Code, the police and district attorney would likely consider all spanking with an implement rounds for bringing charges against the parents. Then a court trial would determine if the parents are guilty of criminal child abuse. Parents would have the difficult task of proving that the spanking was justifiable to the satisfaction of the court in order to avoid being sent to jail for up to one year or receiving other penalties. The case also could be referred to Child Protective Services (CPS) and Juvenile Court, which could result in the possible temporary or permanent loss of custody of their children.

Status:

2/22/2008Introduced
4/3/2008Amended; re-referred to Committee on Public Safety
4/15/2008Scheduled to be heard in the California State Assembly Public Safety Committee
4/15/2008Passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee. Assigned to Assembly Appropriations Committee (hearing date to be set).
4/30/2008Heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and is now being held in that committee’s suspense file to assess its financial impact.

HSLDA's Position:
Strongly oppose—amendments cannot help.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

 Other Resources

E-lert—April 9, 2008—California: Prohibition of Spanking

E-lert—April 11, 2008—California: URGENT—Anti-spanking Bill Hearing Set for Tuesday

E-lert—April 16, 2008—California: Update on Anti-spanking Legislation A.B. 2943

E-lert—May 5, 2008—California: Action Still Needed to Defeat Anti-spanking Bill

Bill Text

Bill History