Reuters, May 26, 1999
PRO-SPANK BILL--Oklahoma legislature urges parents: prevent juvenile violence, whip kids
OKLAHOMA CITY, May 26 (Reuters) - Oklahoma state legislators, in the wake of the Columbine High School killings in Colorado, voted on Wednesday to remind parents they may spank, paddle or whip their wayward children.
A bill reminding parents they have the right to use corporal punishment passed the Oklahoma House by a vote of 96-4 after the Senate approved it 36-9 Tuesday.
The legislation will insert a line into the state's child-abuse statutes reminding parents that state law gives them the right to use "ordinary force," including spanking, paddling or whipping with a switch, to discipline children.
The bill's author, Democratic Sen. Frank Shurden of Henryetta, said he had decided to clarify the statute after two students armed with guns and bombs killed 13 people and themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
"That's what got me spurred," Shurden said. "I feel like the lack of discipline has led to what we are into now, total chaos and disrespect."
"Back when I grew up, we got our tails whipped at school, then got it again when we got home. We didn't have shootings," he said.
Shurden said the wording already appeared in another section of state law that also gave teachers the right to paddle but was unknown to many child-abuse investigators or state welfare workers.
Shurden said many children threatened their parents with child-abuse charges to get out of what he described as perfectly reasonable whippings.
Legislators who voted against the bill argued it would encourage child abuse.
The bill now goes to Gov. Frank Keating to be signed or vetoed.