Canadian spanking laws are archaic
// Victoria Fawkes

I remember the first time the issue of spanking came up in a conversation for me. I was seven, trading Pokémon cards with my neighbor on my front driveway, when she told me she had to get home before dinner or her father would give her a spanking. I gaped at her.

She noticed how confused I looked and explained to me casually that when she was bad, she got spanked. I didn’t get what she was talking about; my parents had never hit me, and I wondered how a parent could ever hit their child, in any situation.
There are currently 26 countries in which child corporal punishment is unlawful; Canada is not one of them. In Canada, the decision to spank or not to spank is up to the parent (or guardian) of the child, but no one else. As long as the child is not under two years or over 12 years of age, and nothing but a bare hand is used, corporal punishment of a child is legal. Essentially, the government details how parents can legally abuse their children.

Although provinces are able to implement tighter legislation regarding spanking, none currently do. In the 2004 legislation Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth, and the Law v. Canada, the Supreme Court passed a 6-3 decision legislating that the use of “reasonable” force is acceptable, and rejected claims that moderate spanking violated the rights of children.

Monitoring the level of force parents are using while hitting their children is seemingly impossible. The only way to know when a parent has overstepped the line is when the child cries foul. As long as we treat children as second-class citizens who are sometimes deserving of physical abuse, the notion of a child stepping out of their role to challenge their guardian on a technicality is unlikely.

Researchers have studied the effects of spanking and other forms of child corporal punishment, and although the results depended on variables, they were almost always negative. Many universities and health magazines, such as Pediatrics, have investigated the effects of spanking, most of them recording results that label spanking as a poor parenting skill that can create lasting negative effects on the child.

Some experts claim spanking can lead to sexual deviancy or violent and delinquent behavior. Sexual deviants, violent offenders, and other “problem” citizens are for all of society to burden. The attitude that spanking is “okay” creates a societal cost easily avoidable had the children in question been protected in the first place.

Some victims of spanking insist that they learned their lessons and suffered no lasting effects; other victims claim that they felt humiliation and fear during and after a spanking, and it made them mistrust their parents, even to this day.

For those who believe spanking a child helps them to learn right from wrong, consider this: is it also okay to hit an adult spouse when they don’t listen to us? When some parents' children disobey them and cause them grief, they may get hit, so what’s stopping them from disciplining their other loved ones? This outdated form of thinking belongs in the time when wife beating and lynching was seen as normal.

//Victoria Fawkes, staff writer
//Graphics by Kailey Patton

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