Do you still spank your children?
A couple in Salmon Arm have been convicted of a criminal offence for doing just that.
A judge has found a Salmon Arm couple guilty of assault for spanking their 14-year-old daughter.
It happened in February 2015, after they discovered the girl sent nude photos via Snapchat to a young man.
Judge rules actions “solely punitive”
As punishment, the father struck her on the bottom with a plastic mini hockey stick, and the mom used a skipping rope.
The girl told her friends at school, who noticed her skin was red, swollen and covered in green and purple bruises.
The judge says the parents’ action were solely punitive, not corrective, and that they were degrading, and amounted to excessive corporal punishment.
Kathy Lynn with Corrine’s Quest, a group trying to end the physical punishment of children, is renewing her call for the federal government to repeal a law allowing restricted forms of spanking.
“The rule based on the last judgment from the Supreme Court is that you cannot hit a child over the age of 12, and you cannot hit a child with an object. Clearing hitting a 14-year-old with a hockey stick goes past it on both of those counts.”
Lynn is calling on the federal government to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code, which allows spanking with strict limits.
Section 43 of the Criminal Code: Correction of child by force:
43. 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.
What “By way of correction” means:
In a 2004 ruling the Supreme Court of Canada set out two limitations to the requirement that the force be “by way of correction”:
- First, the person applying the force must have intended it to be for educative or corrective purposes. Accordingly, s. 43 cannot exculpate outbursts of violence against a child motivated by anger or animated by frustration. It admits into its sphere of immunity only sober, reasoned uses of force that address the actual behaviour of the child and are designed to restrain, control or express some symbolic disapproval of his or her behaviour. The purpose of the force must always be the education or discipline of the child.
- Second, the child must be capable of benefiting from the correction. This requires the capacity to learn and the possibility of successful correction. Force against children under two cannot be corrective, since on the evidence they are incapable of understanding why they are hit. A child may also be incapable of learning from the application of force because of disability or some other contextual factor. In these cases, force will not be “corrective” and will not fall within the sphere of immunity provided by s. 43.
- Focusing retrospectively on the gravity of a child’s wrongdoing invites punitive rather than corrective focus.
- The focus under s. 43 is on the correction of the child, not on the gravity of the precipitating event.
- Force employed in the absence of any behaviour requiring correction by definition cannot be corrective.
What “reasonable under the circumstances” means:
The court also noted that “Determining what is “reasonable under the circumstances” in the case of child discipline is also assisted by social consensus and expert evidence on what constitutes reasonable corrective discipline.”
“Based on the evidence currently before the Court, there are significant areas of agreement among the experts on both sides of the issue”:
- Corporal punishment of children under two years is harmful to them, and has no corrective value given the cognitive limitations of children under two years of age.
- Corporal punishment of teenagers is harmful, because it can induce aggressive or antisocial behaviour. Corporal punishment using objects, such as rulers or belts, is physically and emotionally harmful.
- Corporal punishment which involves slaps or blows to the head is harmful.
- These types of punishment, we may conclude, will not be reasonable.