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
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 It can easily be repealed.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
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.”