AB 755 shelved; State gives green light to child beaters
A letter to California editors from Jordan Riak, June 5, 2007
SENT TO: Alameda Times-Star, Oakland Tribune, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Danville Weekly, Contra Costa Times, The Berkeley Planet, The Berkeleyan, The Spectrum

June 5, 2007

Dear Editor:

Assemblywoman Sally Lieber’s courageous, forward-looking bill, AB 755, which would have given California children partial protection against assault and battery — a protection that all other citizens take for granted — has been bullied into oblivion.

How did that happen?

The bill’s opponents refused to evaluate it on its merits. They ducked every opportunity to engage in an honest debate based on the facts. They seemed indifferent to, or willfully ignorant of, the ethical considerations that arise when an inferior class of citizen is afforded less-than-equal protection of the law. They ignored the long-standing consensus of scientific opinion on the subject. And they refused to examine how reforms similar to AB 755 have functioned over time elsewhere in the developed world. Instead, they regurgitated the time-honored, unctuous bromides about the sanctity of the family, and about the need for government to keep its nose out of people’s private lives — exactly the same arguments that until recently gave spouse batterers near-total immunity. They mounted a clever propaganda campaign that wildly exaggerated the bill's presumed punitive intentions, e.g., "to turn loving parents into criminals," and that trivialized the abusive behaviors it was intended to curb, e.g., "giving a naughty child a loving tap on the bottom to get his attention."

It worked.

In rejecting a measure that would have protected many California children from mistreatment, injury and, in some cases, death, this legislature set a new low standard in the annals of state government for cowardly abrogation of moral responsibility. While pretending to protect "The Family," it turned its back on the children. It declined to extend the most basic of human rights — the right to be safe from assault and battery — to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.


Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir.
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE)



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