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As if things were not out of hand enough with California's latest proposed bill implying that the suspension of disruptive students is somehow racist, Democrats in Illinois have introduced a bill that would criminalize parents who "knowingly, with intent to discipline or alter the behavior of a child, says or messages anything that would coerce the child." In other words, the proposed legislation would classify the appropriate disciplining of children by parents as 'parental bullying' and would criminalize the act. And to think California's legislation seemed outrageous.
The bill was introduced by State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) and states the following:
Amends the Criminal Code of 2012. Creates the offense of parental bullying. Provides that a parent or legal guardian of a minor commits parental bullying when he or she knowingly and with the intent to discipline, embarrass, or alter the behavior of the minor, transmits any verbal or visual message that the parent or legal guardian reasonably believes would coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to the minor. Provides that parental bullying is a petty offense. Provides that if a person is convicted of parental bullying, the court shall order that person to pay for the costs of prosecution and that a portion of any fine imposed, as determined by the court, be placed in escrow for the purchase of a certificate of deposit for use by the victim when he or she attains 18 years of age.
The bill was introduced back in December but, not surprisingly, does not have any additional sponsors.
The measure would, in effect, make being a successful parent a crime. As written above, a parent would be subjected to a petty offense and required to pay court costs and a fine if found guilty of yelling at their child for fighting with a sibling, throwing food at the table, or not doing their homework. It would be the end of the angry mom glare across the room when she catches her child doing something inappropriate. The list is endless and blurs so many lines that parents would live in constant fear of being arrested for being, well, parents.
To add to the ridiculousness of the bill, the sponsor's website says that La Shawn Ford "is a firm believer in the power of responsible parenting and established the Council on Responsible Fatherhood, which aims to support fathers and help them to become more responsible and present." However, most people would agree there is nothing responsible about not allowing parents to appropriately discipline their children when necessary.
The timing of the proposed legislation is ironic, with it being introduced at a time when statistics for the Chicago public school system indicate that children need more discipline now than ever. Only 11 percent of black students in Chicago's public schools can read at grade level. Math has worse figures, with only 6 percent performing at grade level. These dire statistics are not just a failure on the part of the public school system but also on the part of irresponsible parents.
It doesn't take an educator or even a parent to see that the proposed bill is a deflection and distraction from so many of Chicago's other serious problems, like out-of-control gun violence, plummeting public school performance, and a wholly incompetent Mayor who was the first Mayor to lose reelection in 40 years and failed to receive even 50 percent of the vote. Perhaps it's time that Ford focuses on the problems at hand instead of destroying an entire generation of American children by eliminating discipline from their upbringing.
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