Fighting Fear

Confronting phobias and other fears

A Stand Your Ground Law for Children

Beating up kids in Kansas

"Bloody Kansas"

Kansas is considering a new law which will allow parents (or someone they designate) to strike their children up to ten times, even if the result is bruising.  The previous law governing child abuse was considered too vague. It seemed possible under that law that some parents were in danger of being threatened inappropriately by child protective services. One can readily see how embarrassing it might be for parents who were otherwise law-abiding to be accused of slapping their children around excessively when it was very possible they were only acting in the child’s best interest. Under this new “parental rights” bill there are still some prohibitions—even if the child was especially defiant and really asking for it. The child may not be punched in the head or body or whipped. Reasonable force can still be used to restrain the miscreant while punishment is administered. Parents and grandparents ganging up on the child would not be considered reasonable. Students over eighteen can be similarly held down if they are still in high school and if they are not bigger than the school official designated to administer the punishment. (If they are still in high school over the age of eighteen, they probably ought to be smacked around as a matter of principle.)

It must be admitted, however, that some parents may be carried away. (The state is called “Bloody Kansas” for a reason.) It is only reasonable to expect that some parents may inadvertently smack their kid eleven or even twelve times, or even thirteen times, which would be plainly excessive. Or they may lose control completely and give the kid an elbow in the jaw. And, let’s face it, some parents may enjoy hitting their children, especially if there is martial music playing in the background. There is an upside to this otherwise regrettable behavior. We live in a violent world, and children should learn how to cope with the violence and grow up to be a better person.

But children have rights too. They need to learn to hold their ground and fight back when they are pushed around. Parents need to understand that. They don’t want their kids to grow up wimpy or in fear of bullies. They don’t want the boys to grow up dominated by women. (“Pussy-whipped” is the Kansas expression.) No parent wants their children to grow up to be the kind of men and women who just stand there and take it if some punk is sassing them in a movie theater by texting or by playing loud “gangster-style” music outside in a car and annoying everyone. Therefore, I propose a “stand your ground” law for children.

Children who are being beaten excessively by their parents should not be required to run away and hide. They should be allowed access to one of the guns (If the child is under ten, a 22 would suffice. It would be unwise to permit him, or her, to shoot a higher caliber weapon one-handed since he, or she, may be in danger of injuring himself/herself in the backlash.) If a parent threatens the child with no more T.V. (or if he feels threatened), the child should be encouraged to defend himself with the gun (i.e. shoot the parent in the face.) This would set an example for all the other parents on the block who might otherwise be inclined to throw their children against the wall.

However, I think children under the age of five should not be allowed access to any of the guns since they are too young to know how to handle them safely.  (c) Fredric Neuman Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredricneumanmd.com/blog/ or ask advice at fredricneumanmd.com/blog/ask-dr-neuman-advice-column/

Fredric Neuman, M.D. is the Director of the Anxiety and Phobia Center at White Plains Hospital.

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