ALREADY, 1996 is proving that bad ideas do not go quietly.
On Tuesday, Assemblyman Mickey Conroy, R.Orange, won approval in the Public Safety Committee for a bill that should have been dead and buried when it was rejected two years ago.
The measure, AB 7, would give judges the power to order parents to paddle children convicted of graffiti vandalism. If parents balked, or if the judge felt the whacks lacked force, he could order a bailiff to do the job.
Humiliation is hardly an effective way to change youthful behavior
In 1994, when he first introduced the bill, Conroy was responding to the case of a young American sentenced to caning for his graffiti handiwork in Singapore, where even the act of chewing, gum is a punishable offense.
Conroy isn't stopping with graffiti tagers either. A. second bill, AB 101, scheduled for a hearing next week in the Assembly Education Committee, would revive corporal punishment in California schools, which, for good reason, has been banned in schools for a decade. Corporal punishment can mean anything from having someone stand for long periods in front of the blackboard to painful paddling to pinching, hair-pulling, knuckle-rapping and shoving -- and worse. Despite contentions that a whack or two is just what is needed to turn around errant youths, the evidence is that violence begets violence and that humiliation is hardly an effective way to change behavior. In addition, studies have found that minority students and poor white children receive corporal punishment four to five times more frequently than middle- and upper-class white children.
Many parents, heeding the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other child experts, have found alternatives to spankings and other physical punishment. Neither they nor schools should be forced to revert to brutishness. Let's not beat up our children in an avowed effort to socialize them. It doesn't work. And it diminishes both adults and children.
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