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Massachusetts

November 26, 2008

House Bill 3922: Anti-Corporal Punishment Bill

Sponsor:
Representative Jay R. Kaufman (D)

Summary:
House Bill 3922 outlaws corporal punishment upon any child under the age of 18.

Status:

1/10/2007 (House) Filed
1/11/2007 (House) Referred to Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities
1/11/2007 (Senate) Senate concurred in Committee Referral
11/28/2007 Public Hearing, 10:30 a.m. in Room A-2
3/18/2008 Public Hearing, Accompanied study order Joint Committee on Children and Families

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

Opposition Points

The best credible research has shown that non-abusive spanking, when used to back up other disciplinary methods, has been effective in curbing antisocial behavior in children as they grow up.1 In fact, there is no credible research that backs up House Bill 3922’s assertions that spanking is linked to emotional harm or risk of bodily harm.2 Diana Baumrind, Ph.D., of the University of California found that children who are occasionally spanked score higher on measures of adjustment than children who have never been spanked.3 According to Robert E. Larzelere, Ph.D., of Oklahoma State University, ten years after Sweden’s ban on spanking was instituted, child abuse had increased instead of decreasing.4

House Bill 3922 defies all common sense and history. There is no state that forbids the use of an object for spanking by parents. This form of discipline, when reasonably administered, has been accepted by every generation of Americans, including Massachussetts citizens. According to a national ABC News Opinion Poll, over one half of the persons interviewed believe that a reasonable spanking to the buttocks is appropriate as a method of child discipline and close to one half of parents with minor children at home spank their children. 5

Footnotes:

1. Larzelere, Robert E. and Kuhn, Brett R.; Comparing Child Outcomes of Physical Punishment and Alternative Disciplinary Tactics: A Meta-Analysis; Clinical Child and Family Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2005; p. 26.

2. Larzelere, Robert E. and Kuhn, Brett R.; Comparing Child Outcomes of Physical Punishment and Alternative Disciplinary Tactics: A Meta-Analysis; Clinical Child and Family Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2005; p. 2.

3. Baumrind, Diana; Respondent’s Affidavit Brief; Canadian Foundation For Children, Youth and the Law vs. The Attorney General In Right of Canada; Superior Court of Justice, Ontario Court; May 3, 1999, para. 85, 87.

4. Larzelere, Robert E.; Sweden’s smacking ban: more harm than good; Family First and The Christian Institute; England; 2004; p. 4.

5. ABCNEWS.com: Poll: Most Approve of Spanking Kids; March 26, 2007.

 Other Resources

Bill Text    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History