Banning Spanking Does More Harm than Good

January 26, 2017
Cardus

BANNING SPANKING DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD
The effort to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada is not evidence-based policy-making.

January 26, 2017

OTTAWA – When the Senate resumes debate later this month, it will continue consideration of a bill that would ban the use of reasonable force by parents and teachers to discipline children in their care. Bill S-206 would do this by repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which protects a parent who swats an ill-behaved child on the bottom from facing criminal charges. However, a new research review by think tank Cardus, Parental Discipline, concludes that the effort to repeal Section 43 is based on flawed reasoning.

Repealing Section 43 could turn good parents into criminals:

In New Zealand, where spanking was banned in 2007, there are documented cases of traumatizing court cases sparked by a parent admitting to spanking a child. This is why Canadian lawyers told the Senate in 2008 that removing Section 43 from the Criminal Code would leave “parents and teachers who are doing their best to raise and educate their children … through the appropriate use of discipline” without a legal defence.

Repealing Section 43 would turn flawed science into government policy:

Proponents of spanking bans often cite a 2016 University of Texas at Austin review that found the appropriate use of reasonable force caused children to have aggressive or other negative tendencies. However, Dr. Robert Larzelere, Endowed Professor of Parenting at Oklahoma State University, notes that almost all the studies examined in that review failed to distinguish between spanking and abuse. He also notes the review failed to determine whether aggressive behaviour observed in children came before or after the use of reasonable force.

Repealing Section 43 would not correct a historical wrong:

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the abuse of First National children in residential schools at the turn of the century, recommended the repeal of Section 43. Proponents of Bill S-206 have used this to promote their effort. However, the commission never established a link between parents using reasonable force at home with their own children in 2017 and the abuse of First Nations children.

“Spanking bans are not an example of evidence-based policy-making,” said Andrea Mrozek, Program Director for Cardus Family. “Repealing Section 43 would give the government another opportunity to intrude into the homes and lives of loving parents seeking to discipline their children reasonably.”

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About Cardus

Cardus is a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S. To learn more, visit: www.cardus.ca and follow us on Twitter @cardusca.

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ABOUT CARDUS

Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, social cities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.