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New teen bills seen by some as 'nannying'

May 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Is California turning into a nanny state? That's what critics are saying about several bills designed to ban a number of practices used by teenagers.California teenagers may be in for some big changes in the way they live their lives, with a slew of restrictive bills pending.

Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, who is also a child psychologist, says they need help to make the right decisions.

"What we're trying to do is just empower our parents to help them help their kids," said Yee.

Yee is among several lawmakers who are trying to implement the following:

  • Ban the sale of Gatorade on campuses, except during practice or games, to help fight obesity
  • Prohibit metal bats during games
  • Require helmets while on the slopes
  • Outlaw nipple piercings
  • Make it illegal to brand themselves with a hot iron

Critics say regulating teen behavior is the parents' job and such laws push California further into being a "nanny state."

"It means a government that says, 'Hey, you're not smart enough to make your own decisions. So, we're going to make the decisions for you. So, we're going to be like your nanny,'" said Sen. Tony Strickland of Thousand Oaks.

Teens seem to see both sides, but many think lawmakers are going too far.

"I think my parents do enough telling me what I should and shouldn't do. I don't need the government telling me what else I can't do," said teenager Alex Nyamadzawo.

"I can see what they're trying to do like with the Gatorade and wearing your helmet because it's a safety issue," said another teenager Alex Quon.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael admits fellow Democrats sometimes overreach, but he feels his moratorium on metal bats in high school is necessary pointing to a 16-year-old pitcher in his district who was knocked into a coma by a ball hit off a metal bat.

"It doesn't feel like nanny. It feels like a very important public safety issue," said Huffman. "I guess everybody has their own nanny breaking point."

Republicans say that lawmakers should be concentrating on more pressing issues like the state budget deficit and the high unemployment rate.


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