November 20 is a date that we should all know and talk about but it’s one of Canada’s best kept secrets. It is National Child Day and has been in place since 1993. It commemorates the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As many of you know I am the chair of a campaign called Corinne’s Quest. Our vision is the end physical punishment of children in Canada and our mission is to promote the raising of children in a positive, non-violent manner, and to press for the repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal code. For more information on this, go to our website.
Today, I want to talk to you about our activities to recognize National Child Day.
First, on November 15 the Vanier Institute for the Family published an article which observes that spanking is losing favour with Canadian parents because it it ineffective and potentially harmful to children. The article notes that to date, 51 countries have banned physical punishment of children, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recommended repeal as its sixth Call to Action, stating: “corporal punishment is a relic of a discredited past and has no place in Canadian schools or homes”. The Canadian government has committed to accepting all 94 of the TRC’s Calls to Action.
You can read this article on the Vanier site.
Forty years ago Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government abolished capital punishment in Canada.
That was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of course. Four years earlier his government had also abolished the lash in Canada’s prisons. Those two initiatives placed Canada in the forefront of progressive governments the world over.
But Trudeau père left one last law on the books which still sanctions violence toward Canada’s most vulnerable citizens. It is Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which permits parents to hit their children if they think that’s a reasonable way to discipline them.
It isn’t of course. Extensive research confirms what many Canadians have believed and have practiced for generations. Spanking simply doesn’t work.
On this, the 40th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty for those who committed murder, it’s time to abolish the legalized hitting of our nation’s children. This comment came out in a news release on November 17. Government needs to step up, repeal s.43 of the Criminal Code and give our children the same protections from assault as adults.
There are a number of compelling reasons why this needs to happen.
Section 43 not only condones hitting children under certain circumstances, it also provides a defense to those who do. By any measure of human decency, condoning violence against children is a violation of their human rights. Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.
In 1991 Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Maintaining a section of the criminal code which permits the legal assault of children means that Canada is not in compliance with the Convention, and the U.N. has reminded Canada of this fact a number of times.
Our government has promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. Its Call to Action #6 calls for the repeal of s.43. This could be the government’s first easy step to fulfilling that commitment.
There are plenty of high-quality, effective and widely accepted positive parenting strategies to offer children the discipline they need. Canada is not a violent country. We can raise healthy, successful children without ever hitting them.
A series of meta-analyses have demonstrated that in addition to increases in aggressive behaviour in children, spanking has been associated with increases in mental health problems into adulthood, impaired parent–child relationships, delinquent behaviour and criminal behaviour in adulthood. There is also research showing that a risk that initial “corrective” spanking can progress to child abuse.
The research shows that hitting children is ineffective – instead of teaching children the reasons their behaviour needs to change, it simply causes the child pain and engenders fear. Studies have shown that children need to internalize reasons for behaving in appropriate ways.
Spanking teaches them to behave in order to avoid physical punishment. When the threat of physical punishment is gone, children find no reason to behave appropriately. Spanking can lead to some children considering violence toward others as a problem-solver. A violent attitude can also work to reduce family cohesion.
We, the steering committee of Corinne’s Quest ask you to step up to the plate and support us. Let the world know that we want Canada to be the 52nd country to prohibit the legal hitting of our children. Go to our Facebook pages (Kathy Lynn and Parenting Today) and share this information. Tweet out your opposition to S43 of our Criminal Code.
It’s time we protected our children and disciplined them in an effective and respectful way.