BOSTON -- Should parents be allowed to spank their children? Massachusetts lawmakers will be debating that question following the filing of a bill that would ban corporal punishment in the commonwealth.

NewsCenter 5's Kelly Tuthill reported that state Rep. James Marzilli, Jr., of Arlington, Mass., is one of the sponsors of the bill, which prohibits everything from spanking to "hot saucing," which involves putting undiluted Tabasco sauce in a child's mouth.

In April, a Plymouth, Mass., father landed on the front page of local papers and behind bars after he used a belt to spank his son Josh, 12.

"He forgot his book. I went upstairs, I got my belt. I came downstairs. I gave him three swats on the rear end, with his pants on, like any concerned parent would do, and scared him, of course, you know. Hopefully I got the point across," Charles Enloe said.

But now, lawmakers are considering making "the willfull infliction of physical pain on children under 18," illegal. The measure would prohibit corporal punishment including whipping, spanking and pinching. Also forbidden would be washing a child's mouth out with soap and administering electric shocks.

The bill comes two weeks after Brookline, Mass., Town Meeting passed a non-binding resolution encouraging parents not to spank. The Supreme Judicial Court addressed the issue after a Woburn, Mass., minister used a belt to spank his 9-year-old son. In 1999, he was cleared when the SJC ruled that parents have a right to spank their children if it does not cause substantial risk of injury.

The bill appears to be unprecedented. Supporters said it's all about preventing abuse, not prosecuting parents.
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