REALity – Volume XXXV Issue No. 1 January 2016
It never ends. The anti-spanking gang is back at it again, demanding that parents be prohibited from spanking their children. Nothing seems to stop these people, even a Supreme Court decision handed down in January, 2004, which upheld the constitutionality of Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which provides that parents may spank their children, if it is reasonable under the circumstances.
REAL Women of Canada, in a coalition with Focus on the Family and the Home School Legal Defence Association under the name Coalition for Family Autonomy, intervened before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold the constitutionality of Section 43, of the Criminal Code to protect parents and teachers. Nothing has changed since then.
The Supreme Court concluded that children need a safe environment, and must depend on parents and teachers for guidance and discipline to protect them from harm and to promote their healthy development. The court concluded that Section 43 of the Criminal Code accommodates both these needs.
The anti-spankers are spreading their usual inaccurate statements about spanking. They claim that spanking is a violent act, and an assault on a child. They argue that all spanking of children is abuse, which it is not. The anti-spankers have rolled together discipline, punishment, hurting children and violence in order to build their case against parental authority, while claiming for themselves a monopoly on determining what protections are necessary for children’s rights and dignity.
The anti-spankers seem to have no understanding that reasonable physical discipline, provided in a loving manner for the correction of behaviour, is legitimate parental authority.
Moreover, there is no science whatsoever that shows loving parents, who may occasionally and moderately spank, cause any measureable harm of any kind. In the absence of robust scientific evidence against the use of moderate physical correction, there is every reason to refrain from passing legislation which would not command widespread public support and for which there may be a high price to pay in terms of increased levels of child abuse and youth crime.
It is significant that countries that have banned the spanking of children, such as Sweden and Austria, have experienced greatly increased societal problems with violence. For example, Sweden experimented with the banning of spanking in 1979. When the first generation of children, who were not allowed to be spanked, became teens, there was SIX TIMES more violence than there had been when youth were allowed to be spanked by their parents. Today, child-on-child violence is up 2,500% in Sweden. Within 10 years of the ban, child abuse rose to triple the per-capita rate and is up 1,400% today. Rape of adults was up 700%, and rape of minors up 7,200% from pre-ban rates. The children raised under these bans, as they became adults, also demonstrated the highest increase in alcoholism rates and the highest drug-induced death rates.
The World Health Organization found, in a 2002 study, that Austria, which criminalized corporal punishment in 1977, had the highest bullying rates of all 27 countries examined.
It is blatantly obvious from these facts that preventing parents from reasonably managing their child’s behaviour has serious negative consequences.
In its decision on spanking, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that there were limitations on the use of force: it cannot involve children under two or over 12 years of age, or a disabled child of any age; it cannot be “degrading, inhuman or harmful” or include the use of objects, like belts or rulers; it cannot involve “slaps or blows to the head.”
Further, the court stated that spanking that is “only a minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature” is allowed, concluding that the provision does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it does not infringe on a child’s rights to security of the person or equality, and it does not constitute cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
The decision by the Supreme Court of Canada was balanced: it protects both children and families. Since the Supreme Court’s 2004 ruling, there has been no evidence of any improper use of Section 43 being made by the courts.
Supreme Court Ruling Does Not Prevent Legislative Changes
Even though the Supreme Court held that Section 43 of the Criminal Code is constitutional, this ruling does not prevent Parliament from repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code, if it wishes to do so.
If Section 43 is removed from the Criminal Code, in accordance with the anti-spankers’ demands, it would criminalize the actions of a great majority of parents, and would lead to unnecessary police and social service investigations into families where children are at no risk of harm.
In 2005, the anti-spankers tried to have Parliament remove Section 43 from the Criminal Code. They were not supported in this since the Liberal government’s Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, stated that the Supreme Court decision on spanking was “comprehensive” and had laid out sufficient guidelines to protect children from abuse. Consequently, he refused to back any legislative initiative to repeal the spanking law.
The anti-spankers have already written to new Liberal government officials demanding that spanking be banned i.e. the removal of Section 43 from the Criminal Code.
Please write to the following demanding that Section 43 be retained.
The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON Canada K1A 0A2
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Family, Children and Social Development
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6
The Honourable Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6
and your Member of Parliament (MP)
Senate to consider Bill S-206 Steve Weatherbe Life Site news February 7 , 2017
Alberta at Noon | A@Noon for Thursday November 24, 2016 In this episode: we take your calls about whether parents should be allowed to spank their children. Diane Watts of REAL Women of Canada is also featured after Ron Ensom, a long time supporter of abolishing S. 43.