Repeal of Section 43 a good starting point to reduce the number of violent criminals in our jails

 

If Canada’s Minister of Justice is looking for a good starting point to reduce jail populations, she can begin by repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code.

“The use of force to alter the behaviour of others is at the core of much of the violence which results in jail time,” said Kathy Lynn, chair of Corrine’s Quest, which is a campaign under First Call.

“All the research is crystal clear on this point; assaultive behaviour – be it bullying, beating people up, or hitting children to force them to do as you wish — is harmful.  Hitting children in an attempt to control their behaviour increases the probability of anti-social behaviour, delinquency and ultimately criminality,” she said.

Lynn was responding to reports that Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had convened a group of judges and other lawyers who recommended she give top priority to reducing jail populations.

Modern parenting practice offers a host of non-violent means of raising children in a disciplined manner, said Lynn. There is absolutely no reason to hit kids. It’s the easy way out for parents who want to believe they are doing the right thing.

Corinne’s Quest is a national organization focused on the repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which states:

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.
 R.S.C., 1985, c .C-4

Canada abolished corporal punishment in our jails 45 years ago and 40 years ago we abolished the death penalty. Section 43 is now the only section of the criminal code which not only condones violence against children, it offers a defence for those strike children.

“Children’s rights are human rights,” said Lynn. “This is 2016. Why are Canada’s laws still advocating violence against children? It should be prohibited by the law, not defined by it.”

On Dec. 31 1991 Canada formally ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, an extremely wide-ranging statement of the standards of treatment for children within our borders. The Canadian government thereby committed to make Canadian laws comply with the convention. Article 19 states:

 States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

The UN has repeatedly expressed concerns that Section 43 is still in force, and has urged Canada to repeal it, most recently in 2012.

This solution can be part of the answer to the problems of crowded jails. If we raise children who are less likely to see violence and assault as an appropriate response to misbehavior, we will simply see fewer violent criminals.

“We made these points to the Justice Minister’s staff in a meeting on Ottawa last April, and again in a meeting with the minister herself last month,” said Lynn. We recently forwarded the research on this subject to the minister and her staff so they can have the scientific background to the need to repeal Section 43.

Canada urged to comply with UN resolution regarding children’s rights

Corinne’s Quest has renewed its plea for Canada to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it pledged to do in 1991.

The issue arose Monday because Canadian government representatives were at the United Nations to formally announce that Canada will endorse the UN’s Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was enacted in 2007. Canada initially opposed this declaration.

Corinne’s Quest, an organization dedicated to the repeal of Section 43 of the criminal code which permits hitting children, said the UN has repeatedly told Canada that it is out of compliance with the convention of children’s rights because of Section 43. Corinne’s Quest is a campaign under First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition.

“Hundreds of child-serving groups in Canada have been calling for the repeal of Section 43 for more than 25 years,” said Kathy Lynn, chair of Corinne’s Quest. “We find it appalling and frankly, embarrassing that a progressive country like Canada still has a law on its books which permits hitting children. Section 43 not only condones violence toward children, it also prescribes how children can be assaulted and offers a defence to those who do.

“This is an archaic, unfair law, it is an insult to the human rights of children, and Canada’s political leaders should be ashamed to show their faces at the United Nations with this law still on the books.” A total of 49 countries have prohibited all corporate punishment of children.

Lynn further pointed out that her organization’s website has a growing list of individuals and organizations who have signed a declaration opposing physical punishment of children. The list includes child-serving organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, the Mental Health Association, Red Cross, and many local Children’s Aid Societies, hospitals and school boards.

 Corinne’s Quest and Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada applaud the Canadian Government’s intention to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code.

Corinne’s Quest has presented a brief to the new federal government urging it to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada without further delay.

“I have been part of many groups over the past 30 years who have urged successive governments to repeal this law that permits corporal punishment of children,” said Kathy Lynn, Chair of Corinne’s Quest. “It is a crucial step for parents in this country who are dedicated to raising their children in a positive and non-violent manner.”

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada has joined forces with Corinne’s Quest in urging the federal government to repeal what has become known as the “spanking law.”

“We believe that repealing this section of the law is a positive step for Canada’s children, and we applaud the government for promising to do so,” said Owen Charters, President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

“We would also like to thank the survivors of residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for shining light on the need to repeal this law and protect the safety and well-being of all children,” added Charters. The TRC made repeal of Section 43 its sixth Call to Action.

Kathy Lynn welcomes the strong support of one of Canada’s leading youth-serving organizations. “Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada recognizes that repealing this law will be good for all of Canada’s children and we welcome their support. Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.”

Lynn further pointed out that her organization’s website has a growing list of individuals and organizations who have signed a declaration opposing physical punishment of children. The list includes child-serving organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, the Mental Health Association, Red Cross, and many local Children’s Aid Societies, hospitals and school boards.

Group hails Truth & Reconciliation Commission for calling on government to repeal Section 43, which permits hitting children

“We are delighted to hear that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recommended repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code as one of its 94 recommendations,” said Kathy Lynn, chair of a group which is dedicated to ending physical punishment of children in Canada.

“The injury and harm which came to generations of First Nations children in residential schools, which was condoned and permitted under this section of the criminal code, brings international shame to our country,” said Lynn

“The Government of Canada should heed the recommendation of the Commission and hear the voices of millions of Canadians who want to repeal this section of the criminal code. There is no political downside, no costs involved. Simply repeal Section 43,” she said.

We commend the TRC for giving high priority to this recommendation. This would put Canada among the more than 40 countries that have banned physical punishment of children.

“This is something the government can do easily and immediately,” she said. As Justice Sinclair stated, words are not enough. If government were to take this action tomorrow it would show they are serious about moving forward on the recommendations of the TRC in a decisive manner.

At various times in Canada, laws have permitted hitting slaves, servants, apprentices, prisoners, wives, dogs and children. Because of Section 43, children are the only ones left on that list.

Kathy Lynn is the chair of Corinne’s Quest, an organization dedicated to helping parents discover positive, not-violent ways to raise responsible self-disciplined young adults. They are also committed to the repeal of Section 43 of Canada’s criminal code, which permits hitting of children under certain circumstances. The organization is named in honour of Corinne Robertshaw, a lawyer who dedicated her life to seeking repeal of Section 43.

MP Joyce Murray speaks in the House of Commons about protecting children from physical punishment

Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise in the house today to draw attention to a serious issue that has affected the lives of far too many Canadians, the physical punishment of children.

This hurtful practice effects the cognitive, emotional and physical development of kids and can result in lifelong repercussions.

Shockingly, section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Code still permits this cruel form of punishment; an archaic flaw in our legal system to say the least. Meanwhile, over 40 countries around the world have banned the physical abuse of children.

Federal civil servant, Corinne Robertshaw, became concerned about reports of child injuries and deaths caused by parents and caregivers, and dedicated her life to repealing section 43.

An advocacy group called Corinne’s Quest was started in her name. I want to thank Vancouver Quadra constituents Barbara Claridge and steering committee chair Kathy Lynn for their work on this important cause.

I invite all parliamentarians to work together towards ending the physical punishment of children on behalf of the health and well-being of Canadian children today and future generations.

So the Pope thinks it’s OK to hit children to discipline them. We’ve got news for the Pope.

Hitting children has been totally discredited as a legitimate means of disciplining children, and Pope Francis should know that.

“His statement last week that ‘It’s okay to spank your children to discipline them – as long as their dignity is maintained’ is totally out of tune with the times, and we were gratified that his own sex abuse commission called him out on it,” said Kathy Lynn.

“It is absolutely outrageous that the spiritual leader of 1.2 million Catholics world-wide would advocate violence against another human being. That is a totally inappropriate message for him to deliver to his flock.”

Kathy Lynn, a life-long advocate for ending physical punishment for children, is the chair of the steering committee for Corinne’s Quest which is a campaign under First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, a non-partisan coalition of organizations which advocates for improved policies and resources for children and youth.

Our initial response through social media was that it’s disappointing that a person of such influence would be so unaware of the research that absolutely proves hitting children always carries a risk factor. To date, 44 countries have prohibited physical punishment of children because the risks include higher rates of aggression, delinquency, mental health problems and lowered self-esteem. Canada is not on that list of countries.

The Pope should look to the existing research before speaking on the topic. Thankfully, his sex abuse commission criticized his comments saying “there is no place for physical discipline and that the panel would make recommendations to him about protecting kids from corporal punishment.”

One of our concerns is that people will heed the first incorrect statement and miss the second refuting the value of physical punishment of children.
As the Spiritual leader for one seventh of the world population, the Pope has a responsibility to check his facts and talk to his advisors before he advises parents on an important topic such as physical punishment of children.