Interesting story at Canada.com
Removing the parental defence in the Criminal Code to prevent parents from spanking their children could lead to parents being slapped with assault charges for something as simple as trying to strap a screaming toddler into a car seat or forcing them to wear boots instead of sandals in the winter, Justice department lawyers warned a senate committee Monday.
Testifying before the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, Justice Department officials Gillian Blackell and Elissa Lieff warned that the threshold for charges of simple assault is very low and the Criminal Code is a very blunt instrument. Technically, all that is needed is the intent to apply any force against someone’s will, they said.
Consequently, without section 43 of the Criminal Code — which allows parents to use reasonable force by way of correction — parents could easily face criminal charges, they warned.
"If section 43 was simply repealed, any non-consensual force that a parent or teacher uses on a child or pupil could be an assault given the broad definition under the Criminal Code," said Blackell. "There would no longer be a statutory defence to criminal charges where the force used is minor corrective force of a transitory or trifling nature. Parents who physically put a reluctant child in a car seat or remove a child to their bedroom for a time-out are applying nonconsensual force and could be convicted of simple assault."
The Supreme Court has already put limits on the way in which parents can use force to correct their children, they added.
The Justice Department officials were the last to testify Monday as the committee wrapped up its hearings into a bill tabled by Quebec Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette which could open the door to parents who routinely spank their children being hit with charges of assault.
The bill, which now goes to clause by clause consideration, would remove the defence currently contained in section 43 of the Criminal Code for parents and educators who resort to corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure.
In a comprehensive report tabled in April on the rights of children, the committee recommended that section 43 of the Criminal Code be repealed by April 2009. The committee also recommended the government launch an information campaign on the negative effects of corporal punishment, research alternative methods of discipline and examine whether alternate defences should be made available to those charged with assaulting a child.
Conservative Senator Raynell Andreychuk, chairwoman of the committee and a former judge, said the challenge for the committee now will be how to balance its desire to prevent corporal punishment while still allowing parents the possibility of using reasonable restraint.
Currently, following a Supreme Court ruling, it is illegal for parents to strike a child under the age of two or over the age of 12. However, it is legal to use reasonable force "by way of correction" for children between those ages.
This is yet another attempt by the state to parent our kids. Parents should parent. The government can barely manage the country. It will not be managing my home, thank you very much.
It is alarming to me that there are so many people who confuse spanking with hitting, beating and child abuse. It is unfortunate that abuse abounds to the point that people cannot tell the difference.
Abuse is wrong. There is no reason to justify it.
Spanking is not abuse. It is a tool. Spanking has its proper place and time. It should not be used for everything. Indeed, it cannot since it will not correct everything. Parents who spank must always be careful to control their anger in order to avoid crossing the line. If spanking is to be used, it must be used in a consistent manner as a first line of defense and not as a last resort because the parent has "had it" with their kid. Typically, such an attitude is indicative of frustration and anger.
It is of paramount importance that children learn to accept authority. They must also learn to accept no for an answer. If they do not, they will never learn to be in authority and deal in that authority correctly. If children do not learn to accept a no, they will never learn to deliver a no effectively and will forever be manipulated and manipulating.
Parents have different views on what is best for their child. They know what is best because they have the immediate experience. Parenting requires a great deal of thinking on one's feet. The government has no right to dictate what is or is not a correct approach to parenting. They should stick to the business of managing healthcare and stop meddling.