Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada condones corporal punishment but many organizations would like to repeal this law.
Section 43 states:
“every school teacher, 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.”
The act does not apply to:
1. Children under two years old and older than 12 years old;
2. Disabled children of any age;
3. The punishment cannot be “degrading, inhumane or harmful”;
4. The usage of objects such as rulers and belts is also forbidden; and the
5. Punishment cannot involve slaps/blows to the head
The Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada case upheld this decision in 2004 in a six to three decision by the judges. Judges also argued that spanking is not a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so long as it does not infringe on the child’s security, right to equality and is not cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. Spanking is only to be used in a trifling way as a means to correct behaviour. Thus corporal punishment is not be used to in anger or punishment but only to correct behaviour and help the child learn. However many groups are expressing their concerns regarding this law.
Despite seven failed attempts since 2005 to have this law repealed, these organizations continue to pursue the cause. Corinne’s Quest and additional organizations have the support of the Canadian Bar Association in bringing about this change. Bill – S-206 is also supported by the Canadian Medical Association but has not been passed. Supporters of the bill continue to argue that the long-term affects of corporal punishment are being ignored.
Furthermore, supporters of Bill -206 question how often corporal punishment is used within the legal boundaries. The psychological impact of repeated use of corporal punishment can be damaging to a child’s self-esteem and well-being.
Critics of the current law support their stance against corporal punishment with examples of the long-term effects suffered by Native children after being repeatedly beaten in residential schools. Opponents also argue that corporal punishment is outdated as science has provided parents with different techniques to teach children without the use of corporal punishment.
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