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Canada Spanking Law: Why It's Time For This Ban

"Hitting another person is an act of aggression and violence. Period. We can’t be ageists."

In 2014, corporal punishment of children was illegal in 43 countries and Canada is about to become number 44. Yes, spanking will soon be illegal in our country.

Justin Trudeau has stated that he plans to accept all 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was established to help heal the damage inflicted on First Nations children at residential schools across Canada. One of the recommendations is to repeal section 43 of the criminal code, which allows the use of appropriate force against children at home and school.

In simple terms, Trudeau’s Canada will recognize that spanking is an archaic and inappropriate discipline tactic. I wholeheartedly agree with this and have been a supporter of the Repeal 43 Committee for years.

"Hitting another person is an act of aggression and violence. Period. We can’t be ageists."

Spanking is a colloquial term that really means hitting or striking another person, it's just that person is a child. The term “spanking” serves to assuage our guilt, but if you struck a peer you would be charged with assault, not spanking.

Hitting another person is an act of aggression and violence. Period. We can’t be ageists.

The historical use of pain and fear to correct a child’s behaviour is very long, but that does not make it morally right. Historically, husbands were allowed to use “reasonable force” to keep their wives in line, too, since they were considered a man’s chattel.

Slaves were abused by their owners to keep them subservient and obedient, too. But we have become enlightened to the right of all humans to be treated with dignity and worth, regardless of their race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, mental abilities, etc.

That is the progress of an enlightened society. Canada must include children in their definition of rights for all, and now they really have.

Yet, I know there are nay-sayers and here are their arguments and my rebuttals:

Argument: I was spanked as a kid and I came out fine.

Anecdotal stories do not replace the findings of scientific research. What does the science say? Children who are subject to corporal punishment may comply in the short term, but the long-term costs are great.

The ability to learn a life lesson is reduced in a state of fear. Hitting a child hurts their self-esteem and feelings of being loveable and valued. It also injures the parent-child relationship.

A child may learn to lie or be sneaky to avoid being hit. A child may rebel and hit back or hit others. Those who experience aggression at home are more likely to be bullies at school and to be involved in domestic violence when they are older. Modeling relationship aggression keeps the cycle of aggression going, and fails to teach a child how to get along with others through co-operative tactics.

Argument: The trouble with kids today is that they are not disciplined.

Yes, the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. Children are ruling the house where parents once did. In our attempt to eradicate punitive parenting tactics and to show respect for our children, we have abandoned all discipline. This results in chaotic homes, unruly children and parents being doormats, walked on by their children.

Children require discipline. They must be taught how to behave, what is acceptable and what is not. We need to correct their behaviour so they learn to be civil and live with others and accept social rules. Without it, they face a life of loneliness and commiserate mental health issues.

But discipline does not have to be punitive! In fact, the word “discipline” means “to teach” not “to hurt.”

Argument: Do you really want to give a parent a criminal record for losing their cool?

We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society and that is our children. We would love to think that all parents are of sound mind and have common sense, but the truth is, the most likely person to harm a child is their parent.

We have child protection laws to keep children safe from their parents. And there are many steps between identifying a child at risk for abuse and the parents being charged criminally. It is always the goal to re-unite parent and child when it is possible. There is no reason to believe this law will hurt the aim of keeping parents and children close and safe. But safety of the child comes first – and now we have laws that reflect our societal values and which recognize the scientific findings.


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