Tabled parental bullying legislation was over the top, Carbondale councilman says
Tabled legislation in the Illinois House that sought to label parental discipline of their children as "bullying" would have gone too far, a Carbondale city councilman said during a recent interview.
"I think it is gone beyond the realm of absurdity, where a parent cannot be trusted in raising his/her own child without the state stepping in to tell him or her how to discipline their child," Carbondale Councilman Navreet Kang told the Carbondale Reporter.
House Bill 181 would have created an incursion by the state of Illinois into private and personal rights, Kang said.
"I could think of a state intervention when physical abuse is suspected or is evident, but not merely disciplining a child by withholding their favorite toy or not allowing them to watch their favorite TV show," Kang said. "The state is encroaching into our personal lives and taking our basic rights to raise a child."
HB 181, sponsored by state Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), would amend the state's criminal code to create the crime of "parental bullying." That new crime, according to the bill, was defined as "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."
The bill passed first reading in the House on Jan. 9 and was referred to the Rule Committee the same day. On Jan. 29, the bill was assigned to the House Judiciary–Criminal Committee and soon attracted considerable opposition, including skepticism from state Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee), who said he would not support the legislation.
On Feb. 4, Ford filed a motion to table the bill, which was approved via voice vote three days later.
A law from such a bill would have been fraught with unintended consequences, Kang said.
"I do not condone corporal punishment, but letting the child bully a parent into giving in to his or her unreasonable demand or not obeying the parent is not acceptable behavior," he said.
It also would have made criminals of otherwise law-abiding parents, Kang said.
"Even the most well-intentioned parents would be dragged into courts," he said. "Besides that, what kind of children would we be raising who never heard the word 'no'?"