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Peralta bills target parents in effort to reduce child abuse

State Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) said one bill would mandate parenting classes and the other would lessen the amount of physical force that can be used legally against a child.The bills followed the indictments of Cesar Rodriguez, 27, and Nixzaliz Santiago, 27, who were charged in Brooklyn with murder, imprisonment and other charges in the killing of their 7-year-old daughter Jan. 11. Both face up to 25 years to life in prison if they are convicted.Peralta's first bill requires parents to take four classes focused on child-rearing skills while their child is in elementary school as a requirement of the child advancing to seventh grade, he said. The second bill would limit the physical force that a parent, guardian or teacher can use against a child. The current law allows force up to but not including deadly force in discipline.He said he expected the mandatory classes to generate controversy among parents who would resent the state imposing its values, but he thought it was necessary. "It teaches parents to become better parents," he said. Peralta said immigrants often view physical punishment of children as more acceptable than native-born Americans, due in part to customs in the home countries.He said his bills were drafted to prevent child abuse in contrast to a bill that would increase punishments for child killers. State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) urged fellow legislators to support legislation that would give a possible life sentence to parents or guardians accused of killing their child. Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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