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Domestic CP - February 2005

Corpun file 16725

Montreal Gazette, 23 February 2005

Spanking still legal in Canada

By Irwin Block

Parents in Canada are legally allowed to use reasonable force in punishing their children. Section 43 of the Criminal Code - known as Canada's spanking law - also permits teachers to use "force by way of correction" toward a pupil.

Corporal punishment has not been practised in Quebec's public elementary and secondary schools since the mid-1960s, says Serge Morin, president of the Federation quebecoise des directeurs et directrices d'etablissements d'enseignement.

In January 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the spanking law, but set age limits for corporal punishment at no younger than 2 and no older than 12. The court also banned the use of objects, like a belt or paddle, and outlawed blows and slaps to the child's head. Parents could only use "minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature."

Canada's position is in line with the rest of North America, where lawmakers accept corporal punishment as necessary discipline, as long as it is not severe.

In Britain, the government has proposed a compromise law allowing mild smacking that leaves no mark. In refusing to ban spanking, Tony Blair's Labour government argued the upbringing of children must remain a private matter for parents.

In such countries as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Israel, it is illegal for anyone to spank a child.

According to Human Rights Watch, based in New York, corporal punishment is permitted as a method of school discipline in at least 65 countries. In Kenya, for example, children may be spanked, slapped, caned, strapped, or beaten by teachers for misbehaviour, poor academic performance, or sometimes for no reason at all.

(Copyright Montreal Gazette 2005)

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