What happens when discipline goes awry?

Sometimes child discipline goes awry
and a small child ends up in the morgue.

By Kathy Lynn

Dr. Charles Ferguson, an eminent pediatrician from Winnipeg and one of Canada’s leading child-abuse experts, used to say to me that all too often children end up in the hospital because of “discipline gone awry.” The most horrific cases end up in the morgue.

The body of toddler Anthony Joseph Raine, found in a snowbank near a church in Edmonton recently, is just such a case. He was dead when he was found, and his body was covered in bruises. His father and the father’s girlfriend have been charged with second-degree murder.

In Canada we have a law which permits assaults on children, our most vulnerable citizens, up to the point where that assault crosses an ill-defined and highly subjective line. In some cases as in the case of young Anthony, it ends in death.

Section 43 of our Criminal Code says:

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.

This section of the Criminal Code is duplicitous in that it not only instructs the perpetrators of violence against children on just how violent they can be, it then offers them a defense when they do so. Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.

I lead an organization called Corinne’s Quest which is dedicated to the repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code because it is barbaric, it denies our children the basic human right to safety and security the rest of us enjoy, and it is based on some neanderthal notion from our distant past that says hitting a child is a responsible way of teaching them right from wrong.

Thirteen years ago the constitutionality of Section 43 was challenged in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, then through the Ontario Court of Appeal and finally on to the Supreme Court of Canada. Astonishingly, the Supreme Court found that beating a child did not infringe his/her human rights, if the beating was done in just the right way. The court’s split decision resulted in a judicial narrowing of the nature of the beatings Canadian children can now legally receive.

The Court set out a series of judicial limitations to assist in the interpretation of the justifiable or so-called “reasonable” limits of corporal punishment. Those judicial limitations (which again don’t appear in the Criminal Code) are as follows:

  • Only parents may use reasonable force, and solely for purposes of correction;
  • Teachers may use reasonable force only to remove a child from a classroom or secure compliance with instructions, but not merely as corporal punishment;
  • Corporal punishment cannot be administered to children under two or teenagers;
  • The use of force on children of any age incapable of learning from [it] because of

disability or some other contextual factor is not protected;

  • Discipline using objects or blows or slaps to the head is unreasonable;
  • Degrading, inhuman or harmful conduct is not protected, including conduct that raises a reasonable prospect of harm;
  • Only minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature may be used;
  • The physical punishment must be corrective, which rules out conduct stemming from the caregiver’s frustration, loss of temper or abusive personality;
  • The gravity of the precipitating event is not relevant; and
  • The question of what is “reasonable under the circumstances requires an objective test and “must be considered in context and in light of all the circumstances of the case.”

These are now the court-ordered rules on how you can legally beat children in Canada. On the second birthday of her twins, my daughter wryly observed to me that under Canadian law they were now old enough to be beaten.

Dr. Fergusson’s observation about discipline gone awry makes the point. Invariably, parents who strike their children says it is for purposes of discipline, and it may well be. The point is, it is absolutely the wrong way to discipline children. We cannot give parents carte blanche to whack their children and then act surprised when they go too far and the child is physically hurt or killed.

There are 52 countries around the world who have banned all physical punishment of children. Why don’t we join them? After all, we have banned executions and physical punishments in prisons. What if we decided to give children the same human rights as all other citizens and ban all legal assault no matter what the age of the child?

It’s time. This is not a big step.  Most Canadians today agree that it’s time to repeal S43 of the Criminal Code. It’s time to end the family violence caused by the right to assault children. It’s easy. Repeal S43 of the Code and at the same time implement the 6th Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

May, 2017


 

Russian law permits family beatings; are they so different from Canada’s laws?

Many Canadians reacted in horror earlier this month on learning that the Russian parliament had approved a law making it legal to assault family members.

According to a survey, 19 per cent of Russians said it can be acceptable to hit one’s wife, husband or child in certain circumstances. In 2013 more than 9,000 Russian women were reported to have been killed in domestic violence, and critics argue this new law could encourage an even greater level of family violence.

The Russian Orthodox Church authorities believe “the reasonable and loving use of physical punishment is an essential part of the rights given to parents by God himself”.

But Canadians need to re-think their reaction of outrage at this news. Canada also has a law on the books which not only permits family violence, it provides legal protection for the person who commits the violence.

It’s called Section 43 of the Criminal Code.  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.”

“We firmly believe that Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it”, says Kathy Lynn, who heads up Corinne’s Quest, an organization devoted to repeal of Section 43.

“Canada has had laws which permitted beating

slaves,

servants,

Sailors,

apprentices,

prisoners,

dogs,

wives and

children.

In today’s Canada, only children are still on that list”, she said.

“That’s just wrong.  And it’s not who Canadians are.

“This is not a child discipline issue.  It’s a human rights issue.  All Canadians, whatever their age, deserve the protection of law against violence in any form.

The research is clear. Physical punishment of children carries risk factors for the child including self-esteem problems and future aggressive behaviour.

The point is that we have this antiquated law. It can easily be repealed. It is not necessary in our country.”

Today is Family Day in BC and next Monday, February 20, Family Day will be celebrated in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. It is a good day to note that children and adults are safe in their homes in our country. Let’s celebrate National Family Day by having our homes be safe refuges for our children.

The federal government simply needs to repeal Section 43 of the criminal code.

Editors:  Contact Kathy Lynn at 604-258-9074 or at Kathy@ParentingToday.ca

 UN Expert on Violence Against Children Applauds France’s Move to Ban Physical Punishment of Children

France has become the 52nd country to ban physical punishment of children.

France now forbids cruel, degrading and humiliating treatment of children by their parents and it makes spanking a civil offence.

Kathy Lynn, chair of Corinne’s Quest, a national campaign to end physical punishment of children in Canada, applauds the decision made in France on behalf of their children.

“Now, our legislators, need to get on board and become the 53rd country to do the right thing for our children,” she said.

Marta Santos Pais, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, said of France’s decision: “It lays the foundation for a culture of respect for children‘s rights; safeguards children’s dignity and physical integrity; and encourages positive discipline and education of children through non-violent means.”

Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child but is in contravention of that agreement because Canada still has Section 43 of the Criminal Code on the books which specifically permits assault on children by their parents. It is essential that Canada Repeal s.43 in order to be in compliance with the UN Convention.

Call to Action #6 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission asks for the Repeal of S43 and the government has said it will implement the TRC.

“This call to action is an easy one to implement,” said Lynn.  “It requires a simple repeal of that section. Why the hold up when it was promised?

“Is it because our children do not vote and therefore protecting them isn’t a priority? In 2017 shouldn’t our children be protected from all assault in the same way as all other Canadian citizens?”

The research evidence is clear, said Lynn. Spanking can cause kids to become more aggressive and experience mental health issues which can is some cases continue into adulthood. It can impair the parent-child relationship, lead to a lower moral internalization and in some cases to delinquency.

This evidence is clear and compelling — physical punishment of children and youth plays no useful role in their upbringing and poses only risks to their development. The conclusion is equally compelling — parents should be strongly encouraged to develop alternative and positive approaches to discipline.

“It’s time for our Minister of Justice to take a stand on behalf of children and Repeal s.43.”

Prime Minister Trudeau’s renewed commitment to ending violence against children draws strong support from the organization dedicated to repeal of Canada’s ‘spanking law’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has drawn strong support from the organization which has been its strongest critic for not repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code.

In his statement marking National Child Day on Sunday, Nov. 20, Trudeau said in part, “Each child deserves to be raised in an environment that is free of violence, discrimination and exploitation …”

He went on to note that he and his wife Sophie urge all Canadians to speak to children of all ages about their rights.  He said that though the UN introduced a Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, there is still a lot of work to do to because world-wide, millions of children are being denied basic human rights.

Kathy Lynn, chair of Corinne’s Quest, the leading organization formed to push for repeal of s.43, has sent the Prime Minister a letter thanking him for re-stating the government’s commitment to the right of children to benefit from a violence-free up-bringing. The government last year committed to implementing all of the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action including number six, which calls for repeal of s.43.

This section not only condones violence against children, Lynn said, it also offers legal protections to those who commit the assault.  “Violence against children needs to be prohibited by law, not defined by it.

“In the past Canada has had laws on the books which permitted hitting slaves, servants, sailors, apprentices, prisoners, wives, dogs and children,” said Lynn. “Today, children are the only ones left on that list.

“This government has signaled its support in this area on a number of occasions. It is now time for them to take action,” said Lynn. “Canadian parents are ready for this change.

“it’s an easy fix. Simply introduce a bill which repeals section 43. The government did that last week with Section 159 dealing with with anal intercourse which they admitted also violated basic civil rights.”

Hitting kids as a means of discipline is not a trivial matter,” said Lynn.  “The research is clear; it doesn’t work, and it can cause long-term harm to children, not least of which is teaching them that force and violence are legitimate ways of controlling others.”

She noted that while Canada signed on to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, the UN has had to remind Canada several times that we are out of compliance because of s.43. World-wide, there are now 51 countries which have abolished laws which permit assaulting children. Canada is not on that list.

______________________

 

Prime Minister Trudeau’s National Child Day statement

http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/11/20/statement-prime-minister-canada-national-child-day

Social Media Posting on the Prime Minister’s Statement National Child Day 

I see that Prime Minister Trudeau has posted a statement on National Child Day.  Good for him for recognizing this often forgotten day. Among other comments he says that children deserve “to be raised in an environment that is free of violence.

He also notes that “the world has made significant progress in advancing children’s rights since the introduction of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

I am so pleased to see this statement because we know that in order to raise children free of violence the government needs to Repeal s43 of the criminal code which specifically permits the hitting of children.

We also know that Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention but because of the presence of s43 in our Criminal Code we are not currently in compliance with the Convention.

And taking a look from another perspective, the 6th Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission asks for Repeal.

So, let’s do it.

What a terrific way to respect our nation’s children.

Letter to the Prime Minister and a news release about same

Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Re: National Child Day and Section 43 of the Criminal Code

Please let me thank you for your recent statement in support of National Child Day and particularly your comments regarding the importance of children’s rights and their need to be raised free of violence.

Our organization is committed to repeal of the last section of Canada’s criminal code which not only condones violence against children, but also offers legal protections to those who commit the assault. I refer to Section 43 of the code, known widely as ‘the spanking law.’

This law clearly violates the human rights of Canada’s children, and also puts Canada in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which you note Canada signed back in 1990. The Truth and Reconciliation Report also made repeal its sixth Call to Action.

Spanking is a relic of the past and the research is clear; spanking is not trivial. It causes long-term harm to children, not least of which is teaching them that violence and force are legitimate means of controlling others. We believe the great majority of Canadian parents no longer spank. They believe in raising their children in a non-violent manner.

Forty years ago this year your father’s government took the courageous step of abolishing the death penalty in Canada. Section 43 remains the only law on Canada’s books which sanctions and condones violence.

Section 43 simply needs to be repealed, much like your government recently announced repeal of Section 159 dealing with anal intercourse. As the leading organization in Canada on this issue, we commit our full support to your government should you take this initiative.

Yours Truly,

Kathy Lynn
Chair

It’s time for the government to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code and give Canadian children the same protections as adults

Forty years ago Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government abolished capital punishment in Canada.

That was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of course. Four years earlier his government had also abolished the lash in Canada’s prisons.  Those two initiatives placed Canada in the forefront of progressive governments the world over.

But Trudeau père left one last law on the books which still sanctions violence toward Canada’s most vulnerable citizens. It is Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which permits parents to hit their children if they think that’s a reasonable way to discipline them.

It isn’t of course. Extensive research confirms what many Canadians have believed and have practiced for generations. Spanking simply doesn’t work.

In June of this year Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan, published a literature review that includes a wide range of studies on corporal punishment of children. They found that the research has been consistent. Spanking is at best ineffective and at worst harmful to children.

“On this, the 40th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty for those who committed murder, it’s time to abolish the legalized hitting of our nation’s children,” said Kathy Lynn, chair of Corinne’s Quest. “Government needs to step up, repeal s.43 of the Criminal Code and give our children the same protections from assault as adults.”

Corinne’s Quest is a national organization dedicated to the repeal of Section 43, and of educating Canadians about the many non-violent alternatives to disciplining children.

In the past various Canadian laws have permitted hitting slaves, servants, sailors, apprentices, prisoners, wives, dogs and children. Children are the only ones left on that list.

“It’s time for Justin Trudeau to complete his father’s legacy and take the initiative to rid our criminal code of the last vestiges or government-sanctioned assault on our children,” said Lynn. “It is a national embarrassment that this law is still on the books.”

She said National Child Day, celebrated on Nov. 20th, would offer the perfect opportunity for Prime Minister Trudeau to step up and announce this government’s intention to repeal this unfair law.

Lynn says there are a number of compelling reasons why this needs to happen.

Section 43 not only condones hitting children under certain circumstances, it also provides a defense to those who do. By any measure of human decency, condoning violence against children is a violation of their human rights. “Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it”, said Lynn.

In 1991 Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Maintaining a section of the criminal code which permits the legal assault of children means that Canada is not in compliance with the Convention, and the U.N. has reminded Canada of this fact a number of times.

Our government has promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. Its Call to Action #6 calls for the repeal of s.43. This could be the government’s first easy step to fulfilling that commitment.

“There are plenty of high-quality, effective and widely accepted positive parenting strategies to offer children the discipline they need. Canada is not a violent country. We can raise healthy, successful children without ever hitting them.”

A series of meta-analyses have demonstrated that in addition to increases in aggressive behaviour in children, spanking has been associated with increases in mental health problems into adulthood, impaired parent–child relationships, delinquent behaviour and criminal behaviour in adulthood. There is also research showing that a risk that initial “corrective” spanking can progress to child abuse.

The research shows that hitting children is ineffective – instead of teaching children the reasons their behaviour needs to change, it simply causes the child pain and engenders fear. Studies have shown that children need to internalize reasons for behaving in appropriate ways.

Spanking teaches them to behave in order to avoid physical punishment. When the threat of physical punishment is gone, children find no reason to behave appropriately. Spanking can lead to some children considering violence toward others as a problem-solver. A violent attitude can also work to reduce family cohesion.

Editors: For further information or comment, Kathy Lynn can reached at 604-258-9074

News Release re: Vanier Institute article

Corinne’s Quest

Spanking losing favour among Canadians,

Vanier Institute report suggests

The prestigious Vanier Institute for the Family has just published an article which observes that spanking as a form of discipline is losing favour with Canadian parents because it is ineffective and potentially harmful to children.

The institute, founded in 1965, is an educational organization dedicated to understanding the diversity and complexity of families and the reality of family life in Canada.

The article, written by Kathy Lynn, chair of Corinne’s Quest, details the recent history of Section 43 of the Criminal Code, known as the spanking law, and the many attempts to repeal it, including the 17 private member’s bills that have been tabled since 1994.

The article notes that to date, 51 countries have banned physical punishment of children, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recommended repeal as its sixth Call to Action, stating: “corporal punishment is a relic of a discredited past and has no place in Canadian schools or homes”. The Canadian government has committed to accepting all 94 of the TRC’s Calls to Action.

The article, which is available in both English and French,  can be viewed and downloaded at http://vanierinstitute.ca/canadian-debate-spanking-violence-against-children

The one gift every child wants  that Santa cannot give

This little boy wants Santa to bring him the same gift every other child in Canada wants for Christmas. They want to grow up without fear of being hit.

For any reason. By anyone.  Ever.

Regrettably, Santa can’t give him that gift. You see, Canada has a law on the books which not only permits children to be hit, assaulted, slapped, smacked. And that same law also offers a defence to people who do the hitting.

It’s called Section 43 of the Criminal Code.

Over the years Canada had a long list of who could be legally hit.  Slaves. Servants. Prisoners, seamen and apprentices. Wives, dogs and children.

Today, children are the only ones left on that list.

Those who want to continue to hit children believe it teaches them right from wrong, and does no harm.  Wrong on both counts.

We now know from the research that spanking children can cause increases in aggressive behaviour, and is now associated with increases in mental health problems into adulthood. It is also ineffective as a means of discipline.

Modern-day parents understand that true child discipline teaches children right from wrong from an early age. It instils in them a respect for the rights of others, the laws of our land, and the proper way to conduct one’s self in public. That includes how to deal non-violently and effectively with conflict in their daily lives.

Santa can do nothing to give Canada’s youngest citizens the safe, secure and violence-free path through life they all seek. The only ones who can do that are our 338 Members of Parliament and their leaders, who make the laws.

They can do it by repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code.  It really is that easy.

Corinne’s Quest is an organization formed specifically to seek repeal of Section 43. We won’t rest until it’s gone

Merry Christmas, children.

Letter to the Editor

Vancouver Sun, August 25, 2016

(http://tinyurl.com/z5d2ool)

Dear editor:

Re:  Douglas Todd: B.C.’s domestic-violence programs based on ‘false’ theory

While resources for any person who is a victim of violence is a concern, the real issue is why are we seeing domestic violence at all?  Where do Canadian adults learn that hitting another person is a way to handle frustration and anger?

At Corinne’s Quest: End Physical Punishment of Children we know from years of research that children who are hit by parents, learn early that violence toward those you love is acceptable and reasonable. As long as we permit parents to hit children they will grow up learning to hit others in their own families.

The answer is to join the 49 countries in the world who have prohibited the hitting of children. In Canada that would involve the Repeal of Section 43 of the criminal code which permits the legal assault of our most vulnerable citizens.

The government has said it will recognize the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Number 6 calls for the repeal of s.43, Corinne’s Quest calls for the repeal of 43 and the research is clear that hitting children in not effective and carries clear risk factors.

One of these factors is that children learn at their parents’ knees (or over them) that hitting is an appropriate response to conflict.

Let’s tackle the problem by teaching our children that there are many more effective ways of handling stress, frustration and anger than violence. We need to Repeal s.43 and use the many effective, positive forms of child discipline.

Kathy Lynn

Chair, Corinne’s Quest: End Physical Punishment of Children

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.