In my last newsletter, I spoke about the reasons we need to repeal the which permits the hitting of children.
Corinne’s Quest, the campaign to end physical punishment of children is clear that this is a social justice issue, a children’s rights issue and child protection issue.
But, because it requires a change in the law, it becomes a legal discussion under the purview of the Ministry of Justice. Recently, Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, sent a letter to one of our supporters. It has caused me to want to speak to you today some more about physical punishment and why we need it to end in Canada.
The Law is Fluid, not Fixed.
Section 43 of the Criminal Code:
Correction of Child by Force
Every schoolteacher, 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.
As society changes, the law changes. We all know that the Criminal Code of Canada is simply not the same document it was ten, fifteen, twenty or more years ago.
Yet, in a letter to a Canadian citizen the Minister of Justice quotes a Supreme Court decision as the standard. It may be that, but it is changeable. In the same letter she is clear that S43 “protects parents and others from criminal liability for a non-consensual application of reasonable force to a child.” In other words, when an adult assaults a child he or she is protected from the consequences. Of course, the assault must be reasonable (and who defines that?).
This law can and should change. After all, there are many other laws that have changed since that Supreme Court decision.
Same-sex marriage was introduced in some provinces beginning in 2003. On July 20, 2005 the Civil Marriage Act legally recognized same sex marriage nationally.
There will be some major changes this year. For example, there is legalization of marijuana which will cause provinces to determine how to sell and regulate the previously illegal substance.
There are changes planned in parental leave. After December 3, new parents can spread 12 month’s worth of employment insurance over 18 months.
There will also be an opportunity for a worker to take a 15-week leave to care for a critically ill or injured adult or 35 weeks if it’s a child.
The letter goes on to say that the Government continues to ”advocate against the use of physical force to discipline children.” In the first place, physical force is not discipline, it is assault. If the Government is ready to acknowledge the research which overwhelmingly defines risks associated with physical punishment and to note that in 2018 (not 2004) there is a major move against violence.
Family violence includes violence against children. Discussions about bullying need to include parents who bully (physically or otherwise) their children.
In my last newsletter I spoke about why the law needs to be repealed. If you missed that just click here.
We need to stop procrastinating. The law is changeable. This change is easy. As Call to Action #6 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says: “We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
As I like to say; Violence against children should be prohibited by the law, not defined by it.
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