Las Vegas Sun, May 28, 1999

Nevada Senate approves spanking bill

CARSON CITY -- The Senate, at the urging of its majority leader, approved a bill Friday opening the door for parents to spank their children without worrying about suits or police harassment.

Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the bill doesn't allow child abuse or neglect. But it does permit parents to use spanking to discipline a child.

In justifying the bill, Raggio cited a recent escalation in youth violence and gang activity, causing "grief, destruction and terror."

"There is a fear by parents who should be in a position to deal with reasonable discipline," Raggio said. "They have rebellious kids who say 'If you touch me, I will turn you into the cops or I will sue you.' "

At the same time, Raggio said he would not argue with child psychologists who say a parent should never lay a hand on their child.

If a parent is turned in to authorities for spanking or swatting a child, an inquiry will be held. But if the discipline is determined to be reasonable, any record the incident would be expunged.

Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said she did not agree with the portion of the bill which would eliminate any record of the incident. She suggested repeated spanking could point to a serious problem.

Sen. Ray Rawson, R-Las Vegas, said spankings don't equate with child abuse. He said child abuse comes when a youngster is thrown against a wall or his legs are broken. In those cases, the records should be kept. But spanking, he said, "is a case of proper discipline."

Raggio said he patterned the bill after similar legislation in Oklahoma which was passed two days ago.

He said he "would not assign all the blame" to parents for recent school shootings in Colorado, Arkansas, Oregon and other states. But he added, "If you don't instill authority at home, it will never be instilled at school."

He noted that several years ago teachers were given the authority for corporal punishment. That authority was later removed.

The bill, approved 17-3, goes to the Assembly.

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