By Melissa Knific
Newark – Jason Klein and the Rev. Russ Hylton are calling for less government intervention when it comes to disciplining children.
Discipline should be left up to parents, they say.
A jury in Licking County Municipal Court found Klein innocent of a domestic violence charge on May 9. The first-degree misdemeanor charge followed an incident on Nov.21, when Klein spanked his son, Storm Klein, then 13, with a wooden paddle.
Jason Klein, 36, of Newark, said he spanked his son because he found out he was drinking alcohol. He claims the spanking was a disciplinary measure, and government shouldn't be allowed to tell parents how to raise their children.
"I don't think they should have the right at all," the father of six said. "I think it oversteps the boundary of government."
He said he spent nearly $3,500 defending his case, not counting time off work and emotional stress.
Currently, he is collecting information for the Family Defense Network of Ohio to see if he can file a case of false arrest or malicious prosecution. The main purpose is not to recoup money spent defending the charge, but to inform the public that laws don't allow parents to discipline, he said.
John Fisher, director of Licking County Job and Family Services, said spanking a child boils down to "appropriateness."
There are so many variables here," he said. "It's not just a yes-or-no type of question."
Whether a disciplinary action is reasonable is determined on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Hylton, a pastor at Crossroads Worship Centre in Newark, where the Klein family attends, believes in spanking as a form of punishment. It helps mold a child into a productive citizen, he said.
He referenced disciplining to the idea in the Bible: "Spare the rod, spoil the child."
The "rod" of correction shouldn't be an object other than a hand because children learn to fear the object with which they are disciplined, Hylton said.
Each parent should decide when it is appropriate to punish a child and how to do it, he said, adding that spanking does not have to be the first line of discipline.
Hylton said there are exceptions when parents cross the line, and it's considered abuse.
"The average parent should not live in fear of someone calling Children's Services," Hylton said.
Storm also believes parents have the right to discipline their children by spanking. It's a good way for kids to learn from their actions and it works better than grounding, he said.
Storm, a student at Licking Valley Middle School, said he doesn't believe the spanking case should have gone this far.
"I got punished and felt I deserved it," he said.