CA: Oppose AB 755

Child and Family Protection Association recently issued an alert on California Assembly Bill 755 (AB 755) and while I agree that this bill creates a huge problem for parents of young children. I really think they miss the point.

Oppose AB 755

The alert highlights the following points of contention:

AB 755 (Assembly Member Sally Lieber) – Prohibition of Spanking Opposition Points to Share with Legislators
Position: Strongly Oppose
Status: AB 755 (introduced 2/22/07)

Assembly Member Sally Lieber’s first proposal to address all spanking of children ages three and under was never introduced as a bill, apparently due to much opposition. However, contrary to claims originating from her office:

  1. She has not “fixed” her no-spank proposal; she has only adopted a different strategy;
  2. AB 755 is an anti-spanking bill “in disguise” and would have the effect of abolishing most spanking without using language directly outlawing spanking.
  3. Lieber believes that all “good parents” never spank their children; that only “bad parents” do, and therefore “good parents” do not need to be worried about her bill; and
  4. When Lieber claims that her bill only deals with child abuse, remember that she believes that all spanking, by definition, is child abuse. Her strategy in AB 755 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.

AB 755 would amend Penal Code 273a, which currently makes it a crime to cause unjustifiable pain, harm, or injury to any minor child. AB 755 would create a new “rebuttable presumption” that physical pain or mental suffering inflicted upon a child is unjustifiable if it is caused by any of the seven kinds of actions, which are listed in AB 755.

The first of the seven actions listed is: “the use of an implementation, 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 implement (i.e. an object other than using one’s hand).

The significance of the new “rebuttable presumption” in AB 755 is that regardless of any circumstances, the police and District Attorney would have to consider all spanking with an implement to be unjustifiable. Parents would have the difficult task of proving (rebutting the charges) that the spanking was justifiable to the satisfaction of the court in a criminal trial 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.

Roy M. Hanson, Jr.
Child and Family Protection Association
Alert issued April 12, 2007
PO Box 730
Lincoln, CA 95648-0730

Let’s put this all in perspective. The only way a parent would ever get caught up in this trap is by being reported by a childcare worker or medical personnel. This means that more parents will think twice before seeking medical attention.

The proposed legislation also requires; if a person is convicted of violating this section and probation is granted, the court shall require the following minimum conditions of probation:

  1. A mandatory minimum period of probation of 48 months.
  2. A criminal court protective order protecting the victim from further acts of violence or threats, and, if appropriate, residence exclusion or stay-away conditions.
    1. A Successful completion of either a nonviolent parental education class approved by the probation department or no less than one year of a child abuser’s treatment counseling program approved by the probation department. The defendant shall be ordered to begin participation in either the class or the program immediately upon the grant of probation.
    2. The terms of probation for offenders shall not be lifted until all reasonable fees due to the counseling program have been paid in full, but in no case shall probation be extended beyond the term provided in subdivision (a) of Section 1203.1. If the court finds that the defendant does not have the ability to pay the fees based on the defendant’s changed circumstances, the court may reduce or waive the fees.
  3. If the offense was committed while the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the defendant shall abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol during the period of probation and shall be subject to random drug testing by his or her probation officer.
  4. The court may waive any of the above minimum conditions of probation upon a finding that the condition would not be in the best interests of justice. The court shall state on the record its reasons for any waiver.

This bill, as it is written, will provide a huge influx of cash for those offering parental education classes, treatment counseling programs and require more probation officers to be hired and more business for drug testing facilities. All of these “services” provided at the cost of the accused.

Those who are familiar with our court system know that it is currently next to impossible to get a fair trial. This bill will increase the caseload on the court system and does nothing to provided added protections for children.

In short, this bill is a smoke screen – a band-aid that does nothing but rake good parents over the coals and empty their wallets. You’ve heard the fraise “As California goes, so goes the nation.” If this bill is passed, you can expect to see similar legislation passed in many more states.

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Guns and School

School is back in session and so is the nonsense.

Liberty school in Louisville, KY was in the news today. Police have charged and 18-year-old student with gun possession. You might say, “Well good for them.” But before you start cheering about police protecting students, you should know the rest of the story.

This young man (and I do mean young MAN) is being punished for doing the right thing, something that any parent would proud of their son for.

His younger brother had taken an unloaded gun to school on the bus with him, when he discovered the gun, he did the responsible thing and took it away from him, like any good brother would.

Since the gun wasn’t loaded, it didn’t pose a threat to anyone. I’m certain he didn’t want to have to answer for how the gun came to be at the school and get his brother into trouble. Since the gun posed no threat to anyone there was really no reason to alert the authorities.

Apparently, the police didn’t see it that way. Not only did they suspend the younger lad but they charged his older brother with gun possession. I certainly hope there is more to this story than what the news is reporting because I’d hate to think that a young man is being charged with one crime, when his only crime was trying to do the right and protect his brother from criminal charges. Something anyone would do.

The article doesn’t tell us what kind of a gun the boy was carrying. It doesn’t tell us why the younger sibling brought the gun to school in the first place or even how old he was.

The “Zero Tolerance” policies that schools have been operating under for the past few years, do not promote policies of honesty, they do not promote taking personal responsibility for your actions or teach children the value of doing the right thing.

Life if full of circumstances and while the boy did have a gun in his possession. It should factor into the equation as to why and how he came to possess the weapon. Should he have turned his brother in? We can’t say because we don’t have all the details. There could have been any number of reasons for the younger boys actions.

As is often the case, the media have given us a bare minimum of facts and not enough information to judge what actions would have been appropriate responses. Personally, I think the 18-year-old acted responsibly and should have been commended for his actions, not charged with a crime.

As school gets underway again this year, we must ask ourselves, “Exactly what are we teaching children?” Are we promoting the qualities we hope to see in our youth? Do Honesty, Integrity, Loyalty and Honor have any meaning to our students or their educators? What are the long term effects of “Zero Tolerance?” Can we live with the consequences of such policies?

Those are tough questions that deserve some answers.

Hurricane Katrina and Compassion

Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana with a vengeance, leaving thousands homeless and the news wire was ablaze with reports of victims and rescue efforts.

The many ghastly images displayed by news sources can stir up a torrent of emotions in those who find it difficult to imagine the horror of living in a city 80% under water, without basic necessities.

Stranded Pets

Even more horrific is the thought that many viewers are more concerned with the plight of the many animals caught in the aftermath of the hurricane, than concern for the loss of human lives and those who remain – left to survive in the disaster area.

News accounts displayed shots of dogs stranded on roof tops and our hearts went out to them. I’ve heard many lament about those poor animals and how they would love to travel to New Orleans to help them, yet those same people show very little concern over people facing those very same living conditions.

I love animals the same as the next person but I can’t begin to put them in the same category with people in need. How can we have such compassion for pets and livestock, yet ignore women and children in need of basic necessities?

Residents Looting

While the thought of looting in the areas stuck hardest by Katrina is disturbing and certainly not to be condoned, the news reports are more than a little worrisome. A recent article by World Net Daily
reported that, “Fox News reported a local McDonald’s restaurant also was looted with residents stealing burger patties and buns.” While this is certainly newsworthy, I must admit, the first thought that came to my own mind was “So what?”.

Without electricity and refridgeration the food being stolen is going to go bad, someone may as well get some use out of it. McDonald’s will be forced to throw out the burgers and the buns. The losses will be turned over to their insurance company. What’s the big deal?

I guess the big deal is that McDonald’s spent millions of dollars in advertising over the last year and Fox News wants to keep a happy customer by keeping McDonald’s name in the news.

The fact is the entire city is a disaster area and people must eat to survive. Many have elderly to care for and children to tend to. Perhaps, McDonald’s would prefer they resort to measures taken by others in harrowing circumstances. I’m reminded of the Donner Party’s passage over the Sierra mountains in the dead of winter and how many died along the way. The survivors of the party told tales of living off human flesh in order to sustain themselves through the harsh winter.

I wonder if people living off human flesh to survive this disaster would make headlines in the news? After all the media showed many dead just lying in the street because there is no way to bury them.

I read another account about how some local charities were breaking into area restaurants in order to feed the droves of people searching for food and shelter. The article seems to think that was just fine but citizens doing the same thing were looters and vandals.

It’s comforting to know that some police and rescue workers are sticking to the important job of saving people’s lives instead of going after “looters”. If emergency services were in place, as they should have been – prepared to mobilize immediately, to assist those stranded by Katrina, most of the looting could have been avoided.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

ASPCA Assists Animals Affected by Katrina

Animal lovers will be happy to know that the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) will be granting $1,000,000 to animals affected by Hurricane Katrina. Over the past two days, the ASPCA has received nearly $400,000 in donations for help and in-kind aid to help the animals affected by Hurricane Katrina and is on track to raise more than $750,000 with its board of directors allocating an additional $250,000.

The ASPCA estimates it will take millions to effectively re-build the local shelters and provide the necessary animal assistance to the local companion animals including basic necessities.