Jail Time for Parents Who Spank?!

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 22, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Democratic lawmakers are proposing a bill that will make California the first state in the nation to outlaw spanking. The law would classify the spanking of a child 3 years and under as a misdemeanor, with penalties ranging from child rearing classes to one year in jail for repeat offenders.

But is a law dictating how a person disciplines their child a simply a case of government abusing its power?

Joining us now, California state senator, Abel Maldonado. And also with us is psychotherapist Dr. Keith Ablow, is with us.

You're against spanking?

KEITH ABLOW, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I am. Absolutely. You know what, Sean? It's the end of a discussion. It doesn't lead to anything in the child, other than anger, a sense of frustration and humiliation. And parents can do better. I'm not saying it should be against the law but parents can do better.

HANNITY: I've been hit. Don't you think I turned out OK?

ABLOW: We can talk more about this after the show.

HANNITY: My father used to take off his belt and give me a crack. And I'm all right.

COLMES: That's what happened.

HANNITY: That's what you needed.

ABLOW: We would all like to think that our parents are perfect. And I'm sure you'd like to remember your...

HANNITY: I had a good father.

ABLOW: You had a good father. But you know what? We wouldn't advise that as the best way to deal with it. Look at you now, Sean.

HANNITY: I have two kids, and I don't have to spank my kids. For whatever — all I have to say...

ABLOW: You choose not to.

HANNITY: All I have to say is "No PlayStation or Wii" and I win.

ABLOW: I think that's a much better strategy.

HANNITY: But there are — there is what Dr. Dobson calls the strong- willed child. And that is a child that is so out of control that you need to get their attention. We've all witnessed this in a mall, in a store.

You say you want to put those parents in jail for a year?

ABLOW: I think that — certainly not. I think there are other alternatives there than hitting a child, striking the child.

HANNITY: No, you talk about a tap on the rear end, a tap on the hand. It probably would work with Alan.

ABLOW: You know, a strong-willed child — a strong-willed child, more than anyone else, needs to learn to use emotion and discussion to resolve issues. That's the last child in the whole world you want to hit.

HANNITY: Mr. Maldonado, is this possible that literally we're going to put parents in jail for a year if they have a different philosophy than the government out there?

ABEL MALDONADO (R), CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR: Sean, it's amazing. I've been here for eight years in Sacramento . And I've never seen anything like this. It's a law not needed. It's unnecessary.

We have a situation where we have a lawmaker here in California who says that if you spank the child, you spank them, you're going to go to jail for a year or you're going to pay a $1,000 fine.

I must tell you that we have bigger issues in California this moment. We just had a freeze. We have prison reform. We have a budget deficit of $5.5 million.

HANNITY: All right we don't need all that stuff. I got to the point.

MALDONADO: And what do we have, Sean? We have a person that wants to balance the budget by charging $1,000 to every family who spanks their child.

HANNITY: Dr. Ablow, you've got to admit, you've been in the store. You've watched a parent tap a kid on the back side. You've watched a parent hit the kid on the hand.

You know what? Maybe it's not your form or your method of discipline. But you know what? For a lot of parents it's actually biblical; they believe that this is the proper way to raise their children.

And now you're going to support the idea that the government can come in and put those parents in jail.

ABLOW: Certainly not. Certainly not.

HANNITY: That's what this bill says.

ABLOW: And we have much better examples of the government not intervening to curtain parental rights, because believe me, much worse abuse than a simple tap on the hand or a spank is perpetrated by many parents across the country, trust me.

HANNITY: Now I concede some parents can go overboard if they do it out of anger, if they do it out of frustration.

COLMES: Here's the deal, much as you're against this, you don't want the government to legislate it.

ABLOW: No, I don't. And I think it's unworkable. What are we going to have, people like in contentious divorces suddenly claiming that one or the other of them should go to jail because once he or she spanked the child...

HANNITY: Did you get spanked?

ABLOW: Actually, on one occasion. I still remember it.

HANNITY: You deserved it.

COLMES: Sean — come on, guys. How does the California legislature - - how are you going to enforce this? I mean, there's no way to enforce it.

MALDONADO: How do you enforce it? That's the big question. But to tell a child, I mean, a 3-year-old. And she put into 3 years old, because she think she can get the bill passed by 3 years old. But there are some who would love to have it up to 18 years of age.

And in essence, we have a situation here where it's just — it's putting the families in jail. Going after a family.

COLMES: This is just too much government involved in our personal lives and our personal decisions.

ABLOW: I don't think anyone here supports the legislation. But I'd like to hear you at least say that you don't support spanking by any parent, because you choose not to do it. You must think it's wrong.

HANNITY: No, it's not necessary.

COLMES: Why don't you do it with your kids?

HANNITY: But some kids are stronger-willed than my children.

ABLOW:Why don't you do it occasionally?

MALDONADO: Well, I'll tell you, something, Sean.

HANNITY: You know, if my children — I'll answer that question. If my children were out of control and I thought or I deemed it necessary, I would certainly consider it. I don't have that problem.

MALDONADO: You know why you don't have that problem? Because you discuss things with them.

COLMES: You were hit with a belt as a kid?

HANNITY: Absolutely.

COLMES: So you were out of control.

HANNITY: Let me tell you something, it would have helped you. You might not be — have these crazy views of yours.

COLMES: So what's going to happen — Senator, what's going to happen in California with this legislation?

MALDONADO: Well, I'll tell you. It's going to move forward. It's pretty sad. Those are the things that come in California. People say California is the leading state on these type of issues. I've got to tell you that I've called my sister today and I said — I have a 3-year-old nephew — "Do you spank?"

And she says, "If it's necessary I will. But that's my decision. I'm the mother. Not you."

HANNITY: That's right.

MALDONADO: COLMES: But not the politicians, not the government.

HANNITY: Were you spanked, Dr. Ablow?

ABLOW: On one occasion. But I'll tell you, it's the same as saying, you know, "I'll smoke, but that's up to me." Doctors don't recommend it. I don't recommend smoking. It's a bad idea. Smoking or spanking. Bad ideas.

HANNITY: I actually deserved some of my hits.

ABLOW: You didn't, Sean, and I can help you with that. We're going to do a little counseling after the show.

HANNITY: Oh, yes, I'll really open up.

ABLOW: You will. I'm sure we can connect. I'm ready.

HANNITY: God help me.

ABLOW: The doctor is in.

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