TEXAS Pro-paddling bill sails through House; Under plan, prosecutors must show spanking is more than discipline
By Karen Brooks
Dallas Morning News, April 18, 2005

AUSTIN In case any hesitant paddle-wielding parent is confused, the Texas House just affirmed your right to use it on your kid's backside.

Or, if you're not around to administer the whipping, you can pass it off to an aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbor or teacher without fear of prosecution, under legislation that passed the House without debate Monday. [Emphasis added]

It's OK just as long as the swats are administered in the interest of "reasonable punishment."

"Parents are saying, 'We want to make sure the state doesn't intervene when we're trying to discipline our child,' " said the bill's author, Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston.

Bill opponent and fellow Houston Democratic Rep. Alma Allen, a former high school principal, called paddling a "hand-down from slavery, where people learned to control other people."

Ms. Allen's bill banning corporal punishment in schools is stuck in the House Public Education Committee. "I don't ever see a need to hit another human being. We only hit children because they are smaller than us," she said.

Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston
Wants to give spankers a free hand.

Under current law, Texas parents can already pull out the paddle as a means of disciplining their children.

If they're charged with child abuse, they can beat the rap if they prove it was simple discipline. Mr. Dutton's legislation shifts the burden to prosecutors to prove that the spanking was more than that.

Mr. Dutton, a lawyer, once defended a woman charged with child abuse after she whipped her teen granddaughter with a cord when she didn't come home all weekend.

"That grandmother's question to the judge was, 'What should I do? Should I send her to her room for timeout? ... Or should I do something drastic to try and turn her life around?' " he said.

The House passed similar legislation last session, only to watch it die in a Senate committee.
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House members on Monday expounded on their own lives, wearing as a badge of honor the whippings they got or were threatened with as children.

"We didn't have alternative schools," said Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington. "We just had swats."

H.B. 383

By: Dutton, et al.

H.B. No. 383



relating to the right of certain persons to discipline a child. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. Section 151.001, Family Code, is amended by adding Subsection (e) to read as follows: (e) A parent of a child or other person who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child may use corporal punishment for the reasonable discipline of the child. SECTION 2. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2005.

Below is the Family Code that will be amended if H.B. 383 passes in the Senate.




(a) A parent of a child has the following rights and duties:
(1) the right to have physical possession, to direct the moral and religious training, and to designate the residence of the child;
(2) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;
(3) the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, medical and dental care, and education;
(4) the duty, except when a guardian of the child's estate has been appointed, to manage the estate of the child, including the right as an agent of the child to act in relation to the child's estate if the child's action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government;
(5) except as provided by Section 264.0111, the right to the services and earnings of the child;
(6) the right to consent to the child's marriage, enlistment in the armed forces of the United States, medical and dental care, and psychiatric, psychological, and surgical treatment;
(7) the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;
(8) the right to receive and give receipt for payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse funds for the benefit of the child;
(9) the right to inherit from and through the child; (10) the right to make decisions concerning the child's education; and
(11) any other right or duty existing between a parent and child by virtue of law.

(b) The duty of a parent to support his or her child exists while the child is an unemancipated minor and continues as long as the child is fully enrolled in an accredited secondary school in a program leading toward a high school diploma until the end of the school year in which the child graduates.

(c) A parent who fails to discharge the duty of support is liable to a person who provides necessaries to those to whom support is owed.

(d) The rights and duties of a parent are subject to:
(1) a court order affecting the rights and duties;
(2) an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights;
(3) an affidavit by the parent designating another person or agency to act as managing conservator.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, 23, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Renumbered from 151.003 by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 821, 2.13, eff. June 14, 2001. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 964, 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1036, 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

(a) A living human child born alive after an abortion or premature birth is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are granted by the laws of this state to any other child born alive after the normal gestation period.

(b) In this code, "born alive" means the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which, after such separation, breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. Each product of the birth is considered born alive.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Renumbered from 151.004 by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 821, 2.13, eff. June 14, 2001.

151.003. LIMITATION ON STATE AGENCY ACTION. A state agency may not adopt rules or policies or take any other action that violates the fundamental right and duty of a parent to direct the upbringing of the parent's child.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, 6.18(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1999. Renumbered from 151.005 by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 821, 2.13, eff. June 14, 2001.

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