All blog posts

The Latest on the Spanking Laws in Canada

Tags: ,
Spanking and the Law

This week, the Senate passed the following amended version of Senator Hervieux-Payette’s Bill to ban corporal punishment. The Repeal Bill 43 Committee (which I support) wished for a stronger version, but they felt this to be a very important step forward, nonetheless. Here it is:

THAT Bill S-209 be amended in clause 1, on page 1, by replacing line 5 with the following:

“repealed and replaced by the following:

43. (1) Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in

using reasonable force other than corporal punishment toward a child who is under their

care if the force is used only for the purpose of

(a) preventing or minimizing harm to the child or another person;

(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that is of a criminal nature; or

(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in excessively offensive or disruptive behavior.

(2) In subsection (1), “reasonable force” means an application of force that is transitory and minimal in the circumstances.”

Here is how the CBC covered the story. Notice there are almost 500 comments to this story. I started reading through them thinking I would add my 2 cents, but after reading pages and pages I thought better of the idea.

Frankly, I am afraid of a lynching! Maybe all the parents who wrote “I was spanked as a child and I turned out okay” should reflect on what an angry mob they are formulating. Hmmm…

I have a full post on my thoughts on spanking that I posted back in 2004 when Bill 43 was before the Senate.

What I may gather the nerve to share outside my own site is this:

1) Arguing that because you were spanked and turned out fine doesn’t shed any light on just how much MORE WONDROUS a person you might have developed into had you NOT been spanked. It’s tantamount to declaring, “I drank bleach and I didn’t die,” so that is to be taken as an endorsement for the benefits of feeding bleach to your child? I don’t think so.

2) YES, we have a parenting crisis underfoot, and parents ARE losing control of their children. My goodness, it’s almost as bad as when men lost control of their wives, and when white landowners lost control of their African American slaves. We must embrace the idea that in 2008, all people should be granted the right to respectful treatment, regardless of their race, religion, gender or age.

3) Our knee-jerk reaction to loss of control is to use MORE control and MORE physical domination to get underlings back in line and prevent a revolt. We have a hard time understanding how to move from our historical model of external control over children, to adopting new methods of stimulating cooperation and developing an internal locus of control and a true desire to behave in adaptive, helpful ways.

4) Parents need to be educated about why 4 year olds have tantrums and how to respond to misbehavior in a way that is effective. “No spanking” doesn’t mean “no discipline.” There are other child guidance practices that are non-punitive and evidence-based research proves they are the better way!

What do you think? Shall I dare post this to the CBC? If I do, will you come support me there too?

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

More about Alyson

12 Responses to “The Latest on the Spanking Laws in Canada”

  1. Kimberly O'Donnell

    You go girl!! I will back you up there as well, you will just be more articulate in your message!
    I felt nauseous reading those comments on the cbc website, I couldn’t finish reading them either. No wonder you had reservations about posting your opinion.
    I could not agree with you more when you said that we should be calling spanking what it is, HITTING. How often do we find ourselves telling our children not to hit their siblings/playmates etc? Can we really expect our children to follow the old saying “Do as I say and not as I do”? What we do now, good and bad, affects the way that they will govern themselves in the future. I know that I don’t want my kids to feel that they have to be physically agressive or violent when they feel frustrated or angry. There are so many other ways to deal with those situations and none of them involve fear or dominant behaviour.

    Reply
  2. Annie

    I’ll support you all the way on the spanking issue. However, I continue to be perplexed at how parents and experts can be against one type of abuse and then supportive of others. Not only should spanking be banned, but letting your baby cry-it-out should be considered neglect too.

    Reply
  3. Amy Brown

    Alyson, I will support you morally but I don’t think I will follow you to the CBC website and do it there — I don’t have enough Internet time to waste it reading the ravings of the kind of people who would argue for their own right to physically harm (or for that matter, humiliate and control) their own children. Sorry I can’t have your back more literally, but I am with you in my heart (and my mind.)

    Reply
  4. Christine Haskell

    While I may not support you on issues of Cry It Out, I would most definitely support your argument against spanking. I don’t understand how anything that would be considered abuse in an invalid adult can be even remotely considered acceptable, much less legal in children.
    In addition to everything you already stated, there are some serious long term ramifications of spanking your child, including issues with sex:
    ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2008) — Children who are spanked or victims of other corporal punishment are more likely to have sexual problems as a teen or adult, according to new research presented today by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.
    The rest of the article is here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228220451.htm
    Spanking is not acceptable. Not only is it inherently sexual and demeaning in nature, you should never resort to hitting (yes, spanking is hitting) your child. I know that some advocates of spanking say you should put the child in time out, and then come back calm and explain that they’re being spanked for X reason… but how many people practice that? And when you’re both calm and the child has been in time-out, why not use that time to DISCUSS the problem rather than beat them to “solve” it?
    Again, if an orderly spanked your grandmother in a nursing home, she’d be fired and sued. This should hold true to a parent, teacher or caregiver performing the same action to your child.

    Reply
  5. Heather Kallinger

    I agree with this 100% and think you SHOULD post it. Of course, I was spanked, but I am, by NO means ‘fine.’ And I’m definitely not the only one.

    Reply
  6. LB

    I could never reconcile violence (which spanking is) as a way to deal with a small human being (which children are). I wouldn’t hit my husband, and he doesn’t hit me. Violence is Violence.
    How are we to teach our children hitting is not appropriate behaviour is if we hit our kids? It is total hypocracy.
    I’m with Alyson, but then again I’ve had the benefit of your class. Be prepared, there will be backlash. Why? Because those who hit are not looking at their children through democratic glasses, rather the old-world view of “authority-rule”. Only when the paradigm shifts will any support of violence stop.

    Reply
  7. Concerned For Our Most Precious Resource Our Children

    We keep changing laws, worrying our children are being negatively impacted… if spanking is such an abuse… why is crime rising, families breaking apart, mental health diagnosis,drugs and addictions increasing?(as the use of spanking in parenting has drastically decreased in recent years) I do not believe it is from a swift spanking to the buttock muscle. I believe the real crime is lack of parenting, neglect, lack of parental presence or ability to be present in their children’s lives, not if someone spanks or not. No abusive person is going to say okay one swift open hand to the buttock muscle their just going to hit and not care where… spanking is not proven ever to be detrimental to a child’s well being, the people who see it so harshly… I feel for you as you must have been mistreated as a child or not spanked enough…

    Reply
  8. Concerned For Our Most Precious Resource Our Children

    We keep changing laws, worrying our children are being negatively impacted… if spanking is such an abuse… why is crime rising, families breaking apart, mental health diagnosis,drugs and addictions increasing?(as the use of spanking in parenting has drastically decreased in recent years) I do not believe it is from a swift spanking to the buttock muscle. I believe the real crime is lack of parenting, neglect, lack of parental presence or ability to be present in their children’s lives, not if someone spanks or not. No abusive person is going to say okay one swift open hand to the buttock muscle their just going to hit and not care where… spanking is not proven ever to be detrimental to a child’s well being, the people who see it so harshly… I feel for you as you must have been mistreated as a child or not spanked enough…

    Reply
  9. RJ

    Thank you Alyson for speaking in favour of non-violence. If a person cares about children and the health of society then they should support this bill. Overwhelming amounts of research prove hitting/spanking children is harmful in many ways, such as making children more aggressive and growing into adults who commit more domestic violence, have more sexual problems and who do more poorly in higher education. Spanking teaches children to use violence to resolve problems. Spankers believe in violence to solve problems and that’s wrong. A survey done recently in the US showed that people who approve of spanking children are more likely to approve of torture. Spankers like to solve the problem of people who disagree with them by spanking them. They’re hooked on violence and yes they’re like a lynch mob. Stay honest and true to yourself; there are more of us who believe in non-violent parenting than you might think from the comments on CBC. Go ahead and post your comment, I did 🙂

    Reply
  10. Chrissy

    yes parents are losing control of their children, its serious. comparing it to slavery and the repression of women is actually idiotic in so many ways its not even funny. we’re not talking about abuse, we are talking about a spank given by a loving parent to keep a child from behavior that could possibly harm themselves or others. I cant tell you how many times ive seen a child acting up and behaving completely miserably only to be spanked and actually seem RELIEVED to be disciplined….its quick and to the point and can snap them out of their misery quite effectively.
    children dont even know what respect IS so how can you teach them anything by giving them “respectful treatment”(ie letting them walk all over you) before they can give it back? We all show the oppropriate amount of respect to our babies by giving them shelter, nourishment, knowledge, affection and love… teach them respect by showing them to respect YOU first, it doesnt work the same way it does between adults. you cant reason with a one year old, you cant tell them WHY they shouldnt bite their sibbling, (they already know it hurts, thats why they do it) the only thing you can do is give them a reason not to…..kids are totaly compulsive and not very well equiped to control their compulsiveness. every child is different and responds differently, the point is we should have the option and our kids need to know we have that right as well!
    We are taking control out of the hands of parents when we take away the right to spank. this gives impulsive, inexperienced, innately mischevious children way too much responsiblity. there is a certain confidence and security in knowing your parents are your complete loving authority, lets not take that stability away from our children.

    Reply
    • RP

      I agree with this 100% a spank on the bottom is NOT abuse, its discipline. Abusers will always be abusers with the bill or not. Disciplining an unruly child should be up to the parent, and NO YOU CANNOT REASON AND TALK IT OVER with some or most children. Just look at our society TODAY its going to hell and kids are running wild thinking they do not need to listed to anyone including their parents because its their RIGHT. I love how some people say ITS PROVEN that spanked children are more violent and don’t do as well in school, THAT IS BS. I can see abused children maybe becoming more violent and or doing not so well in school but by no means from a spank for discipline. Spanking was well used in the past and i do not recall any shootings in schools or out of control children. Our society sucks and children are growing up with a sense of entitlement and lack of respect for anyone.

      Reply
      • alyson

        I respectfully disagree and the scientific research confirms this. There are many ways to discipline a child without the use of aggression / hitting. I do agree that we have become misguided in our current parenting in that we have abandoned all discipline and children are entitled and out of control – but the answer to this problem is not a return to old autocratic methods of punishment. We have ALTERNATIVE ways that are neither permissive, nor autocratic. Being a backbone / democratic parent requires learning new methods of harm-free but effective discipline. That’s my life work – teaching new ways!

        Reply

Leave a Reply