Dear Governor Geringer,
I am concerned that a progressive state like Wyoming would carelessly blur the line between discipline and child abuse (Senate File 74). As a physician, I must be able to draw a clear distinction between acceptable discipline and abuse. That difference lies in distinguishing between infliction of pain as a teaching tool versus infliction of injury. Bruising clearly indicates that reasonable force has been exceeded and tissue damage and injury has occurred.
Please understand that the medical and legal communities must have specific guidelines for defining child abuse. Most reasonable professionals will agree that the goal of discipline is to teach, not to inflict injury to a child's body. Once there is bruising, however minor, there is physcial damage. Who will decide how much internal bleeding is appropriate? There have been cases, admittedly extreme, where bruising has caused death due to blood loss, as well as kidney failure through a process called rhabdomyolysis in which the destroyed tissue basically clogs up the kidney.
Please excuse me if this sounds dramatic; but the critical issue is how to protect all children from physical abuse, while allowing parents to teach children right from wrong. I hope you agree that harming a child's body to the point of causing internal (subcutaneous) bleeding is not appropriate nor in the best interests of the child.
Please help us all keep children safe in these dangerous times and veto this bill, which most assuredly will lead to further injury to and maltreatment of children. That is not the goal of discipline. Thank you for your time and concern for our children.
Eric S. Kanter, M.D.