Position: The Green Party will repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code.
This is the 1892 section of the Criminal Code that justifies the physical punishment of children for “correction” by teachers, parents, and persons acting as parents.
The exact wording is:
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. R.S.C., 1985, c .C-4
Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a defence to assault that justifies violence against children by teachers and parents in the name of correction. It allows severe spanking, slapping and striking with belts and other objects. Section 43 is harmful and contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has no place in a democratic society that values children.
It's time to give a clear message to children, families and all members of society that our law no longer justifies hitting children as a method of discipline.
The January 30, 2004 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on the constitutionality of section 43 limited the scope of this defence but did not end it. Limiting legal approval of hitting children by restricting hitting to certain ages, degrees of force, and parts of the body is not the solution.
Legal approval for any hitting of children is harmful and unjust.
Research shows that the vast majority cases of physical abuse start with physical punishment as discipline, that such punishment contributes to bullying, aggression, anxiety and depression among children, that it is linked to spousal assault, and that it is ineffective and absolutely devoid of benefit.
The movement to end all legal approval of corporal punishment by parents began in Sweden in 1949 and culminated in its1979 "anti-spanking" law.
Dr. Joan Durrant, University of Winnipeg, has done extensive research on corporal punishment in Sweden. She found the following effects of the Swedish law reforms:
deaths from abuse diminished and are now extremely rare
social service intervention became more preventive
identification of children at risk increased
belief in corporal punishment as an appropriate method of discipline decreased from 53% in 1965 to 11% in 1996
The following countries have no defence similar to section 43 in their criminal law and have specifically prohibited corporal punishment in their civil law in the years indicated.
See: International Developments
Table of Acquittals
132 Supporting Organizations
Spanking – A Shortcut to Nowhere, By Penelope Leach
Majority favour repeal of "spanking law"