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Spurn the Rod and Save the Child

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On Wednesday, March 3rd the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will begin hearings on SB 689, a bill which would ban hitting children with sticks, belts, straps and electrical cords. It would also prohibit burning a child, kicking, shaking, punching with a fist, biting and choking a child. The Coalition to Protect Maryland's Children, a supporter of the bill, says it hopes to remedy a problem caused by Maryland law which allows "reasonable corporal punishment" of children, a term so vague that courts have a hard time interpreting it and children often go unprotected.

The MarylandLegislature should ban corporal punishment entirely. It's already banned in Maryland schools, in child care, foster care, and institutions for children. Twenty-five countries ban corporal punishment of children by anyone in any setting, including homes. It has been banned because corporal punishment is the leading cause of child abuse and children should have the same right as all adults to be free from physical harm.

It would be unlikely that a bill calling for a complete ban on corporal punishment of children would be introduced in the U.S....in any state. It is likely that there will be opponents who will say that even this measure banning harsh punishments is too much too soon and parents will not be able to change their behavior.

Maryland SB 689 is a start. It's time to put some starch into laws protecting children in Maryland.

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Nadine Block is the Executive Director of the Center for Effective Discipline, a non-profit organization which provides information to the public about the effects of corporal punishment of children and alternatives to its use(www.stophitting.org). (more...)
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