CANADA: S-21, Spanking ban legislation -- correspondence between a grandparent and a senator CANADA: S-21, Spanking ban legislation -- correspondence between a grandparent and a senator
December 7 & 9, 2004

From: Suzanne McMullin []
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 1:53 PM
To: Hervieux-Payette, Céline: SEN
Subject: Bill S-21 - Spanking

I would like to have the opportunity to add my voice to those who are supporting you in your bid to have Bill S-21 tabled in the House of Commons. I would first like to congratulate you on trying to bring this matter into the public eye, once again.

Having just recently begun to research various issues related to children’s rights, I touched base with Jordan Riak of PTAVE in California. He has been following the developments in Canada, as well as elsewhere, and had notified many of us of your Bill.

  • Given that the law that is being upheld is 112 years old, it is as you say, long past time, that this law be struck down.

  • For Justice Minister Irwin Colter to deny this Bill without a hearing means that he advocates violence against children of a specific age group, although, in keeping with the myths surrounding spanking, he will not refer to it as violence. This does, however, demonstrate that he, like many Canadians, remains unaware of the real issues surrounding spanking – the violence, the sexual content, paddling as an even more horrific form of discipline, damage to the spinal column, and the emotional damages. It also means, unfortunately, that the informed and educated voices of the medical and psychological community are continuing to be ignored.

  • There is a ground-swell of support for abolishing this medieval way of “communicating” with children. It will eventually “come to Canada”. For a country that is as peace-loving, with a peace-keeping role known and admired world-wide, it is time for Canada to join other enlightened nations in abolishing a method of discipline that treats children as nothing more than chattels.

  • This law continues to enable adults to avoid taking full responsibility and making a full commitment to parenthood, in learning the proper methods to communicate and to discipline their children. Any parent or teacher who believes that their rights will be subrogated by the introduction of this Bill is simply choosing not to become aware of the issues and not willing to change their behaviour.

  • I once trained a dog. His name was Buddy and he was a horror when we got him home. We were set to return him to the SPCA, however, we decided to try one last thing – a dog training course. It was, indeed, not the dog that needed training – it was the owners. He went on to win a trophy and become a beautiful, loving companion. It is exactly the same with a child – it is not the child that needs correction; it is the adult that needs to learn how to correct to bring out the best in the child.

  • When my daughter was 8 years old, she fell in a playground and compressed three vertebrae in her lower back. Under Canada’s current law, if someone had spanked or otherwise hit her in the lower back, she would most likely have been paralyzed – all because she would fall into the correct age category in Canada to be hit rather than be spoken to as a human being.

  • Odd --- as a grand-mother, I’ve never had to hit my 7-year-old grand-son! I consciously chose this value, to put an end to the violence that was used against myself. Yet, he has been incredibly obnoxious, sometimes kicking and hitting me. Why? Because on April 20, 2003, he witnessed the murder of his 3-year-old sister, for whom spanking had become a way of life. Instead of empathic parenting, compassion, education, understanding and commitment, an adult decided to end her life by hitting. The spankings were hidden, as this adult knew that the public is finally beginning to view spanking for exactly what it is – violence – against someone smaller and helpless, an adult’s egotistical need to enforce control at all costs.

  • On the website for the Canadian Children’s Rights Council, it lists the theme for the year 2004 as “A Canada Fit for Children” which is supposed to celebrate Canada’s commitment to children. Yet the reality is continuing and increasing poverty, rights ignored in regards to apprehension, possessions, custody, access to family, identity, bodily integrity, denial of legal representation, and the continuing “right” to be hit based on age. November 20 is National Child’s Day?? Who knew?!

In memory of Jayden Kaylee McMullin whose life was ended on Easter Sunday, just 6 days shy of her 4th birthday party.

Suzanne McMullin

Dear Ms. McMullin,

Thank you for your correspondence and your positive comments on Bill S-21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).

I am deeply saddened by the grave situation you endured in your family and offer my sincerest condolences on the loss of your granddaughter.

As I pursue this issue, I will remember your situation and will do what I can to ensure that our society is no longer able to justify such acts in the name of discipline.

Following the Supreme Court ruling in Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), in which legislators were encouraged to pronounce themselves on section 43 of the Criminal Code, I felt compelled to do something to improve the situation of the many Canadian children who are physically punished by their parents.

In the coming months, parliamentarians and Canadians will have an opportunity to voice their opinions and to be heard on this important question, namely protecting Canadian children from corporal punishment.

I encourage you to share your story and to make your support for Bill S-21 known to as many Senators and MPs as possible.

Once again, thank you for your expression of support.

The Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette, P.C.

See related:
Bill S-21 (If this PDF page fails to open due to a pop-up blocker on your system, hold the "Ctrl" button and click again.)

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