Bill S-206, “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence)”, will, if passed, remove a provision of the Criminal Code (section 43) that permits parents to use limited, minor physical force for disciplinary purposes.
Section 43 states:
“a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a… child… if the force does not exceed what is reasonable in the circumstances.”
This section – as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada (at paragraphs 23-25, 37 of their judgment) – only permits disciplinary force that is sober and reasoned, addresses actual behaviour, and is intended to restrain, control, or express symbolic disapproval of a child’s behaviour.
Bill S-206 would simply repeal section 43, not replacing it with anything. Now, without section 43, the Criminal Code prohibitions on assault would apply when you spank or even restrain your child. Assault means any unwanted physical contact without consent. So, without section 43, any time you touch your child without their consent, it’s assault.
So, have you ever spanked your child? Have you ever had to grab your son to get him into the van? Have you ever needed to pick up your daughter and place her in her room for a time out? If S-206 passes, what does that make you?
But you’re not a criminal. You’re a loving parent. You want what’s best for your child. If you use reasonable force, you do it to guide, protect, and correct your child. This so-called anti-spanking bill will forbid that. It will have you looking over your shoulder every time you need to discipline your child.
This is not about stopping child abuse – that’s already prohibited, and should be prosecuted vigorously. This bill is about an ideological approach to parenting being forced on all parents and children.
You may be thinking, “Haven’t we heard about this issue from ARPA before?” Well, you probably have. There have been repeated calls in Canada for all corporal discipline to be criminalized. In fact, since 1997 there have been eight bills to ban corporal discipline, none of which have succeeded.
Perhaps you choose not to use corporal discipline in your family. This is a choice that must be respected since every child reacts differently to different forms of discipline, and only the parents know what works best for their child. However, we still need to work together to stop this bill because of its infringement on the rights and responsibilities of all parents to raise their children.
So, ARPA Canada has three action items for you:
1. Make a short video statement, 30 seconds or less. Say that you’re a parent, that you love your children, that Bill S-206 would make you a criminal, and that it needs to be stopped. Post your video to social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) with the hashtags #lovingparent #NOTaCriminal and #stopS206 . If you don’t have children, you can talk about how you respect and value how your parents disciplined you.
2. ARPA Canada has a letter to the editor contest on right now, and what better topic to write on than this. Use the same talking points: you’re a loving parent (or the child of a loving parent), that Bill S-206 would make you a criminal, and that it needs to be stopped. If your letter gets published, make sure you submit it ARPA for our contest!
3. Finally, if Bill S-206 makes it past the first vote, it will go to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. We want to inundate that committee with written submissions from parents. Imagine flooding the Committee with testimony from loving parents about how discipline actually works. If you’re up for it, consider including a request to make an oral presentation to the committee as well. If you are willing to make a submission, contact us and we will show you how and when to make the submission.
Together, we can protect our families and our children from the misguided wisdom of some ideological senators.
Please take the time to send your MP a letter expressing your concerns about Bill S-206. We have two draft EasyMails to get you started:
As always, edit them as you like, and please be respectful. Thank you!
ARPA Canada published a recently-updated Policy Report on corporal discipline packed with research and policy arguments. Give it a read!
You can read more about the bill and see what stage in Parliament it’s at here.