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Mo. state senator wants to strike down practice of corporal punishment in schools

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Spanking children is still legal in public schools in Missouri, Kansas and 17 other states, but one Missouri state senator thinks it should stop.

Democratic state Senator Joe Keaveny of St. Louis proposed legislation this week that would ban educators from hitting children as a form of punishment in schools.

FOX 4 called around but couldn't find a school district in the Kansas City metro area that still allows it. However, just a few years ago the Missouri School Boards Association reported at least 70 districts still had policies that permit teachers to spank children.

Angela Augur is a mother of two young boys who just wouldn’t be okay with someone, especially a teacher, spanking her kids.

“I would be very, very distraught if I found out my kid came home and said, ‘Mommy, my teacher spanked me,’” Augur said. “That’s something that is between a couple and how they’re going to raise their kid, if they’re going to spank or not, and I think it would be way out of line for a teacher to take that responsibility.”

Gina Shibel, a child and family therapist at The Children’s Place in Kansas City, Mo., said she believes it’s “crazy” that spanking is still occurring in schools.

“The research has for years shown that this is just not effective,” she said of physical discipline. “It often promotes more aggressive kids long-term, it also promotes more anti-social behaviors, like bullying, lying, cheating to avoid physical punishment.”

Shibel believes physical discipline can make a child feel devalued, and actually promotes, rather than stops, bad behaviors.

“What we’re breeding, really, is another generation of hitters,” she said. “So what people need to realize is that it is a cycle and what you do to your child will often come out when they’re parents or caregivers.”

As for Augur, she hopes this bill passes and that spanking in schools everywhere soon becomes a thing of the past.

“Especially when they’re so young, it would break my heart, it really would,” she said.

No word yet on if similar legislation could show up in Kansas. However, just last February, Rep. Gail Finney of Wichita got national attention when she proposed a bill that would allow teachers and parents to smack kids hard enough to leave a bruise. That bill died in committee.