The Canadian Coalition for the rights of children and youth, a group of academics who have extensive material to back up the concept that physical punishment does harm and fails as a means of discipline. They recently had a webinar and that can be seen at https://rightsofchildren.ca/resources/ (it’s the first one webinar) or here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Xss8AoZpPSEr. It was presented by Joan Durrant & Valerie Michaelson, and titled Canada’s Children Deserve Protection from Violence: A Call to Action.
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For Immediate Release
Nov. 20, 2019
Child Mental Health Issues Can Begin
Over the Knees of Their Parents
Today, Nov. 20, is National Child Day. It’s the day in 1989 we signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a pledge which we still do not honour.
The UN has repeatedly warned us that Canada remains in violation of this pledge because of Section 43 of our criminal code which still permits and condones assaults on the nation’s children.
Many children today are anxious. They require increased mental health resources to cope with heightened anxiety levels, and part of the problem is domestic violence.
When children are continually struck and spanked as a form of discipline, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behaviour. According to a meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas and the University of Michigan, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties can be attributed to continued spanking.
“it’s to our nation’s shame that we still have this law on the books,” said Kathy Lynn. “Today, 58 countries now have laws which specifically ban physical punishment of children in any way for any reason. I regret to say Canada’s name is not on that list.”
Lynn is the chair of a Corinne’s Quest, a national organization dedicated to protecting childrens’ right to be free from violence in any form. They call for repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code, also known as ‘the spanking law’.
In 2016 Prime Minister Trudeau made a statement strongly supporting National Child Day and made specific reference to protecting the personal security of children. “Since that date CQ has met with the Minister of Justice and have spoken to MPs and Senators and their staff including the PMO to urge them to follow up on the Prime Minister’s statement, to no avail,” said Lynn.
“We know that public sentiment in largely in favour of repeal and most MPs support us as well, but the government has failed to act.”
• The UN and most of the world’s governments are in favour of repeal.
• The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report calls for repeal.
• Most provinces now have laws or policy on the books banning the strap.
• Research overwhelmingly warns of harms to children, including physical injury but also teaching children that violence is a means for dealing with problems.
• Section 43 denies children their basic civil rights.
• Child-serving organizations and professionals including doctors and lawyers have voiced their support for repeal.
What the criminal code says
Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada
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
Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.
Decades ago in Canada, it wasn’t a criminal assault to physically beat
In today’s Canada, only children are still on that list.
CQ’s request is simple: Repeal Section 43 of the criminal code.
There is no need for replacement legislation, or a re-write of the existing law, or new conditions placed on Section 43. Senator Murray Sinclair has an appropriate draft law for this purpose. Existing laws dealing with the various levels of assault are sufficient, and existing laws also deal effectively with self-defence or protecting a child from harm, or breaking up a schoolyard fight.
This new parliamentary session provides an ideal opportunity for all parties to come together to jointly support a bill to repeal s.43.
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For information on Corinne’s Quest, see their website at corinnesquest.ca
For more information you may contact:
Kathy Lynn, chair, at 604-258-9074
Alberta’s United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney claims the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child is part of a “coordinated agenda” quietly working to undermine the authority of parents to hit children.
Who else does deserves to be hit under Mr. Kenney’s rules of conduct? Wives? Apprentices? Prisoners? Slaves? Animals? At one point in Canada it was OK to hit all these classes of people, but no more. Times have changed.
The UN declaration is aimed at shielding the last remaining victim of violence in our society, our children. And Kenney thinks this is wrong.
For the record, Article 19 of the UN Convention states that participating countries “shall take all appropriate …measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence.” This includes parental hitting of children. Canada ratified the Convention 28 years ago, but sadly, is still not in compliance with it. The Canadian criminal code still has Section 43, which still permits the legal assault of children in Canada.
The UN Declaration is not a plot; it is aimed at the protection for children, which includes child spanking, a euphemism for assault.
I recent years the conversation was about the hitting of women. In 1965, in an interview in Playboy magazine, actor Sean Connery said, “An open-handed slap is justified – if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.”
In 2007, in an interview with Barbara Walters speaking about hitting women he said, . “I haven’t changed my opinion… sometimes women just won’t leave things alone… Then, I think it’s absolutely right.”
No man today would make such statement. In Canada we agree that it is never okay for an adult to hit another adult. In earlier times Canadian law permitted physical punishment of slaves, apprentices, prisoners, dogs, wives and children.
Today we can only hit children.
It is now 2019, and we talk about being anti-violent. But we still legally assault children, our most vulnerable citizens. Does that make any sense at all?
We urge the federal government to repeal S43 and free our children of this violence.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kenney needs to give his head a shake.
What is the connection between the United Nations and Physical Punishment?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The focus for this initiative has been on foreign policy.
But there is another issue that the Liberal Government could easily address.
On December 13, 1991, Canada formally ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention, which is a comprehensive statement on children’ rights, covers every aspect of a child’s life.
Corinne’s Quest: End Physical Punishment of Childrenis a campaign with a mission to end the legalized assault (spanking, smacking, slapping, hitting) of children in our homes. Accomplishing this would mean simply repealing S43 of the Criminal Code of Canada which is the section which permits and defines when and how parents can hit their children. (to learn more about S43 and Corinne’s Quest, simply press here.)
The presence of S43 in our Criminal Code is in direct conflict with the Un Convention. It seems to us, at Corinne’s Quest that our government should repeal S43 and come into line with the United Nations.
Wanting a seat on the UN Security Council while openly flaunting a basic right as set out in the UN Convention does not make sense.
There are, of course, other good reasons why the government should Repeal S43 and protect our children from assault in the home.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission which the Government has promised to implement recognizes the problems with this section. Their Call the Action #6 asks for the Repeal of S43.
Section 43 is an archaic law which came into our Criminal Code in 1892 and reflects a 19th century belief that corporal punishment is an appropriate and necessary way to correct children. Most parents who continue to use corporal punishment are simply following a practice approved by Canadian law and custom since 1892. It is a national embarrassment that this law is still on the books.
It is important to repeal it because some parents see it as a justification to continue to hit children as a means of discipline. Other violence-prone people believe it offers legal permission to do so and protection from the law when they do.
It is the last remaining section that condones violence. It is the last section in the Criminal Code which shields a perpetrator of violence from criminal prosecution in the courts.
In the past, various Canadian laws have condoned violence against:
Today, children are the only ones left on that list.
November 20 is National Child Day. Our Canadian Government can celebrate on behalf of all our children by simply repealing S43 of the criminal code of Canada.
Violence against children should be prohibited by the law not defined by it.
Minister of Justice has missed the boat
in dealing with family violence
Canada’s Minister of Justice has totally missed the point with her attempt to forestall domestic violence in Canadian families, according to a leading advocate for children’s safety.
“Where does the Justice Minister think young men suddenly get the idea to beat the hell out of their wives and girlfriends?” asks Kathy Lynn, chair of Corrine’s Quest, a campaign devoted to repealing Section 43, Canada’s spanking law.
“The idea of using violence to solve conflicts is first learned across a parent’s knee, when parents resort to spanking kids to change their behaviour”, she said.
She says Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s approach is to use further punishment through police, the courts, even the bail system, to change behaviours. That’s much too late. In his role as Minister of Youth, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must understand that young Canadians do not suddenly start believing that assault is the answer to frustration, disobedience or differences of opinion. They learn it when they are still kids.
“Using a bigger stick to solve violence problems has never worked,” said Lynn. “It’s a comforting idea, it gives the impressing you are seriously doing something about the problem, but in fact you are making it worse by invoking the force of governments and the courts.
“We need to be working on the root causes, and the Minister’s reforms don’t do that. Little Johnny gets hit regularly and legally at home by his parents, so he learns that violence is an appropriate response to anger. He continues this behaviour into adulthood with his girlfriend. But suddenly it’s illegal. Makes no sense whatsoever.
Section 43 of the Criminal Code permits parents to strike children aged 2 to twelve “for correction”, and also offers parents a defence in law if they are charged with assault.
Lynn said Senate bill s.206, presented by Senator Murray Sinclair who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, offers a ready-to-go solution to the problem of repealing s.43. The TRC’s sixth Call to Action also called for repeal.
For more information you can go to the article:Domestic Violence Starts Over the Knees of Parents
Canada’s Best Kept Secret
Today is National Child Day. Did you know that? No, it’s our best kept secret. Last year the Prime Minister made a statement. But I can’t find one this year so let’s look back.
Social Media Posting on the Prime Minister’s Statement National Child Day.
In 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau 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.
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.
From the New Westminster Record, June 17, 2015
Dawn Black lobbies for change to spanking laws
Former MP and MLA Dawn Black is part of a committee urging the federal government to change the Criminal Code to prohibit spanking.
Former New Westminster MLA and MP Dawn Black is fighting to change the Criminal Code so spanking is no longer allowed.
Black is part of a committee that’s seeking to repeal the section of the Criminal Code that permits the hitting of children.
“I worked on it in the House of Commons and pushed for it,” Black told the Record. “A friend of mine is a parenting expert who has had this on the side of her desk for a number of years. She has now retired and has decided to put more effort into it and put together a committee. She asked me to help with it.”
Black said research shows that spanking doesn’t work as a parenting tool and can be harmful to kids.
“The research is rock solid. It doesn’t work and it can be harmful. So why would you keep doing that?” she said. “Why would you have it in your own Criminal Code? It’s like a statement – our country says it’s OK to hit kids. I don’t think that’s good.”
According to Black, nearly 50 countries have banned the hitting of children, but Canada and the United states are “behind the times” where laws are concerned. At a time when society is trying to model non-bullying behaviour, she said it’s time to change the law.
“It used to be in the Criminal Code that you could hit your wife, you could hit your apprentice, you could hit your slave, you could hit a variety of people,” she said. “The only one that’s left there is that you can hit your children.”
Black said the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that Section 43 of the Criminal Code be repealed, as a result of the physical discipline and abuse that occurred at residential schools. Section 43 is the section of the Criminal Code that permits spanking.
“It’s hard to get governments to move,” she said. “There are people who will tell you ‘I got hit as a kid, it didn’t hurt me.’ People model the behavior their parents had, which is one of the things to come out of the truth and Reconciliation Commission – generational damage goes down three or four generations because people model the way they were raised.”