Spanking: is it only for consenting adults?
By Angela Marie Denstedt
TO SPANK OR NOT TO SPANK, THAT IS THE QUESTION. The Supreme
Court of Canada will announce their decision Friday regarding
The Supreme Court of Canada release their ruling this Friday
on whether to make obsolete laws that allow parents and teachers
to use reasonable force when punishing children.
“The law [in Canada] allows force which is considered
reasonable; one problem is, though, that ‘reasonable’ is
not defined within the law,” said Paul Whitehead, a sociology
professor at Western.
The law — coined the “spanking law” — has
been the cause of much controversy and debate across Canada
for years, Whitehead explained. “There have been many
cases where the general public would have agreed unreasonable
force was used, yet the defendant was still found not guilty,” he
“There are no good lessons to learn from this practice;
as a society, we can do much better,” Whitehead said,
adding the upcoming verdict regarding this law is unsure.
“Canada is one of the last industrialized countries
to still have legislation that allows parents and authority
figures to use physical force as a proper use of punishment,” said
Allan Lescheid, an education professor at Western.
As an expert on child abuse and youth violence, Lescheid also
noted that long term studies have shown children who were disciplined
with physical punishment often become adults who practice the
same use of force. “Physical abuse is not an effective
way to discipline or teach a child,” he said.
“It is very ironic that we try to champion schools as
supporters of non-violence, yet we’re allowing them to
use means of physical punishment against students. This makes
no sense at all,” Lescheid said. Teachers and parents
have many ways to learn about proper, effective ways to discipline
children, he stated, citing the Children’s Aid Society
or the children’s unit at any London hospital.
“A very distinct problem with allowing corporal punishment
as an appropriate form of discipline is that it may only begin
with a spanking but often escalates in households to a harder
spanking or more excessive forms of abuse,” said Diane
Cresswell, a spokesperson for the Children’s Aid Society
“Referring to this law as the ‘spanking law’ is
totally inappropriate,” Cresswell said, adding CAS does
not condone any form of corporal punishment against children. “It
needs to be recognized that children learn by example.”