The Liberal government has promised to enact all recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation final report, which could include making it illegal to spank children.
One of the recommendations of the report is to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code which allows parents and teachers to use ‘reasonable force’ to correct the behaviour of children in their care.
The repeal of Section 43 was number six on a list of 94 “calls to action” included in the report, which was made public last week.
Groups like B.C.-based Corinne’s Quest have long lobbied against spanking and spokesperson Kathy Lynn is welcoming a change to the law.
“Section 43 used to cover slaves, servants, apprentices, prisoners and even the early, early days, wives,” Lynn explained by phone. “None of those are left in Section 43. The only people we can hit legally in this country are children.”
Many people argue a parent spanking their child is not abuse or hitting, but often is a last resort discipline measure.
Lynn maintains it only teaches children one thing, “what they learn is that when you are angry, upset or frustrated the way you can handle it is by hitting someone, even somebody smaller.”
Texters and callers responding to this story on CJME’s MainStreet did not necessarily agree.
“There are times when you know there is a situation where harm could happen and they need that instant correction to know that that is not OK,” wrote one texter.
“There is a huge difference between the abuse and the discipline part,” another said.
Others argued that spanking does teach kids a lesson in some circumstances.
“That is one of the reasons nowadays why kids don’t follow instruction in business. There’s no repercussions.”
“Spare the rod, spoil the Child? I don’t think so. I raised three girls. They didn’t get away with anything. If I thought they deserved a swat, they got it. Physical discipline teaches respect. Look around, kids today don’t know what that is.”
“I think whether you spank or not is up to you and shouldn’t be dictated from an outside source it’s your free right to raise your children how you want.”
Other people who responded said they were not in favour of spanking at all.
“Unless you explain to a child what they did wrong, usually they don’t know. Giving them a swat it’s not teaching them anything. I will never spank my kids. There are a million other ways to handle kids.”
“I would be afraid of some of these parents going too far.”