Illegal to Spank in Canada?

Christa - posted on 05/21/2010 ( 41 moms have responded )

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I just learned on another thread (please correct me if I was misinformed) it's illegal to spank before the ages of 2 and after the ages of 12. While I agree with those limitations, I'm wondering if this doesn't infringe on a person's right to raise their child how they see fit. Obviously there is a difference between spanking and beating your child so I don't want this to b a child abuse thing. I think it's a bit much that if I give my 18 month old child a swat on the butt I'm breaking the law. I guess I feel that the parents should be allowed to raise their child as they see fit, so long as no actual abuse is occurring. Thoughts??

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Charlie - posted on 05/24/2010

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I personally believe spanking infringes on a childs rights to bodily integrity and their rights as a human being .

Illegal to spank a person on the street because we dont like their behavior , in fact its assault , strike a partner at home and its abuse why should a child be treated with any less respect just because some people have this sense of ownership over them .

i find it sad that adults are allowed to live to a higher standard by law all because they are scared to step on parents toes , its about time someone stood up for the children .

It may not be abuse by definition but no person deserves to be treated with physical acts of aggression , i dont care how hard or soft people claim to spank , if you wouldn't treat a random person on the street with a swift spank why would you do it to a child ?

Krista - posted on 05/21/2010

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I think it's probably one of those things where if everybody had common sense, there'd be no need for a law. But unfortunately, there were likely cases of people spanking newborns, or spanking an 18-month old with a belt -- stuff that just goes way too far. I agree that when it comes to SENSIBLE people, yes, they should be allowed to raise their kids as they see fit.

But unfortunately, common sense is not a requirement for procreation. So I suppose laws like that are put in place so that the authorities have a legal leg to stand on if they hear of someone spanking a 4-week old and decide to go investigate.

Jess - posted on 05/25/2010

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Caitlin, I just read your post and you said, hitting your child's hand isn't abuse, but than said your older child was hitting the baby and why should the baby put up with being abused..... So its OK for you to hit but not your daughter, and when she does it its abuse ?

This is that contradiction I speak of ! Your teaching her not to hit by hitting.... big people, hit little people ! Your actions tell her one thing and your words tell her another. You say don't hit while you hit. * Im sorry to use your comment, but its just a perfect example*

How can anyone expect their child to understand the rational behind smacking/spanking when its a clear double standard ?

Johnny - posted on 05/25/2010

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I'm quite thankful to live in a country where we limit the rights of people to hit each other. I'd love to see a day when there is absolutely no acceptance of violence in any form, be it spanking a child, fighting in hockey, or UFC. I've yet to be convinced or swayed by any argument that violence improves the human condition in any way. But I have seen plenty of evidence to the contrary. Violent acts of any form have this insidious way of covertly (or overtly) degrading our society.

I was spanked a few times on the bottom with a bare hand by my own parents, and while I do not believe it harmed me, I don't think it served any benefit. I would have quickly learned the same lessons with other forms of discipline. While it did not lead me to hit other children, it certainly was no way to teach me not to do so. And it took me a long time to realize that it was only the fact that my parents used it so sparingly (perhaps 4-5 times in my entire childhood) and very purposefully that it did not leave any scars.

In my time as a child protection worker, I can not count the number of times "physical discipline" slipped into abuse and caused serious harm to a child. The excuse that "I was only trying to teach them" was used so frequently to excuse horrific acts towards children that it has become meaningless to me when discussing physical actions as a form of discipline.

I have swatted my daughters hand. Exactly once. Because I caught her as she was about to stick a metal hairclip into an electrical socket that was for some reason unprotected. It was not discipline or teaching, but simply designed to avert a greater catastrophe. I apologized to her for hitting her and for making the mistake that could have lead to her injury. There are so many things that she has showed interest in over time that I have not wanted her to touch, persistent redirection and gentle correction repeated over and over has worked on every one of these issues.

Caitlin - posted on 05/26/2010

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And you are entitled to your opinion.. in that situation the intent was not to control, but to stop an unaccepted behavior. One could argue everything we do is to :control" our kids. We control what they eat? why? because if we dont, they will choose what tastes good and isn't good for them. That is control, but for their own good. I control how much tv my child watches, because she learns more from doing things and playing. I also control when she goes to bed, gets her shots, goes to the doctor, all because if she had the choice she wouldn't do it.. If I gave her the choice, she probably wouldn't tire of hitting her sister in the face, stealing her pacifier or sitting on her chest or face. The need to spank(or swat on the hand)? because its dangerous for her to do those things to a 3 month old baby, there was no physical way to remove her from the situation (like time outs, because I wasn't at home) and reasoning with her wasn't working. I have only once swatted her hand at home and that was to move her hand from a dangerous thing, the intent was not to hurt her, just to prevent her from continuing.. Otherwise I much prefer time outs(i don't like spanking either, bbut i don't feel that it is always innapropriate or abusive)

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[deleted account]

This is turned into another spanking v. anti debate which is a bit like flogging a dead horse because everyone on either side says the same stuff in every debate.



As for the law in Canada, I think it's pretty reasonable in most cases, but I don't think parents should be charged if they lightly swatted a child to protect them from danger.



I'm not sure this law will ever be enforceable though. Most spanking takes place in private and theres no way to prove it if there's no mark. It will send out a message that abuse isn't tolerated, but I suspect it won't do anything to stop child abusers who's actions are already illegal. Instead it will lead to time and resources being diverted away from real abuse onto dealing with complaints about parents who administer trivial swatts for danger or even movements that have been mistaken for swatts by nosy members of the public.

Charlie - posted on 05/26/2010

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I think COM needs a "what she said " button or just an "agreed " button LOL , i would click it for every single one of your posts Jamie .

Jaime - posted on 05/26/2010

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Thanks for posting that link Amanda. I agree with Ailsa Watkinson and I'm glad to see the narrowing and restrictions but still disappointed at the notion that children are second-class citizens and don't have the same 'rights & freedoms' of protection that adults do.

Jaime - posted on 05/26/2010

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So if you are able to spank your child when you are in control of your actions and emotions, then why the need to spank?...That was the first question that I came to before I read the line: "I did it to make her realise that it isn't funny or a game".....so you did it to control her and that's not what discipline is about. Discipline is not about having power and control over another person and it's definitely not about making someone do or see something...it's not an effective method in my opinion.

Caitlin - posted on 05/26/2010

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But how is a parent who chooses to spank lacking self-discipline. It's not as if all parents who spank do it in the heat of the moment out of frustration. You are implying that any parent who views it as a valuable discipline tool isn't in control of their actions. Untrue, I was fully aware of what I was doing, I was not frustrated and I followed it by a cuddle and an explanation. I didn't swat hre hand so she's afraid to do it again, I did it to make her realise that it isn't funny or a game to hurt her sister. I was spanked as a child, but it didn't stop at spanking, there were belts, spoons and brushes etc used to spank me, it left welts and made it hard for me to sit down sometimes, it left bruises and I was afraid of my mother because of it. I know what damage an ineffective spanking can do, but there is a right and wrong way to do things..

Jaime - posted on 05/26/2010

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I disagree Caitlin. Discipline is not about having power and control over your children. It's unfortunate that you view discipline in this way because no one should ever feel like they rightfully have control over another person. The only person you have control over is you. The definition you pulled up about discipline says "behavior and order maintained by training and control"...I most definitely agree that control is needed...but it's more to do with a parent being in control of their actions/reactions and a child learning to be in control through the methods used in disciplining them. Spanking most definitely is a way to control a child...most parents feel that it instills a level of fear which will hopefully dissuade a child from repeating ill behaviour. Like I have said many times over...discipline has to be embraced by parent AND child...if a parent has no self-discipline how the hell can they teach it to their child? Thus the perpetual cycle of kids that were spanked and grew up to have kids that they spanked...etc...

Caitlin - posted on 05/26/2010

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Actually discipline IS about having power and control over your child (definition - behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control (source: dictionary.com)). Discipline and spanking are different things though.. Spanking SHOULDN'T be a way of controling your child - it should be used as a consequence for unacceptable or dangerous behaviour when other methods have failed - and never in frustration or anger. Discipline is about establishing appropriate ruiles and consequences for actions. My husband is from a military bacground, where discipline is a very important thing, and in the military, they dont establish control by beating the recruits, they establish respect by using other methods, but on the other hand, they are dealing with adults, not toddlers, and unfortunately - drop and give me 20 doesn't work on an 18 month old (but i hope maybe by 2.. If it did, i'd have the healthiest teenager out there!)

Jaime - posted on 05/26/2010

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Caitlin, every kid responds differently to potty training too, but with consistent, positive methods and encouragement kids eventually catch on. It's the exact same with discipline...or so it should be.

I don't think anyone is out to label you a bad parent for your choice to swat your daughter's hand...we just feel that there are better, more positive methods. Granted these methods take time and patience, but they DO work! As for giving kids too much power...I agree that there is an unbalance of power in most families and it's either one extreme or the other: kids have run of the place or parents are too militant and have impossible expectations. Power and control over our own person is what should always be taught and expected. A dictatorship is exactly what constitutes spanking as abuse....it's an abuse of the power that parents have as parents. Discipline is not about having power and control over a child, it's about having power and control over one's own actions and emotions. That's the point of discipline. That's why discipline is something that never goes away...it has to be continuously learned and embraced throughout life.

Tah - posted on 05/26/2010

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i don't spank my 13 year ld..but if he was lets say..standing in my face dropping F-bombs or calling me out of my name then they can come and get me now...i will sit on the curb and wait..but if he was doing that..it probably started at around 2 and he never received a good swat on the bottom for it..so it's a fine line..

Caitlin - posted on 05/26/2010

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But the question that arrises in my mind is when you have tried all the gentle correction and redirection methods you know (and i've asked many people and tried many things) Now this swatting my daughters hand has only happened a total of twice for this reason, once for a safety issue.. it's not a regular thing, but it worked, and my daughter hasn't hit me or anyone else, her hitting her sister is mostly her lacking the ability to be gentle (but she's 18 months, I don't expect her to be overly gentle, but when I say leave the baby alone, I mean it..)

Different kids with different personalities respond differently to discipline. Sadly, redirection has almost never worked with my daughter, and reasoning with an 18 month old with the attention span of a goldfish is kind of tricky, she's testing her limits, and if I have to give her a little swat on the hand once or twice to establish appropriate boundaries, then I will. I don't think it is abuse, and I don't think it should be illegal. These kind of laws give kids too much power, the like the father who was arrested at his workplace because his son called child protective services on him because he was sent to his room without dessert as a punishment.. seriously, we give our kids WAY too much power in the adult-child relationship, and we are paying the price.. I don't believe a democracy int he home works.. As my husband says "this is a dictatorship.. and i'm the dick." And it's funny, because he even looks at me oddly when I mentioned the hand swat, but he's seen her be defiant and he couldn't figure out another way either... Does it make me a bad parent? no...

Caitlin - posted on 05/25/2010

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Before I had kids, I said i'd never spank them. II still never intend on yanking down the pants and putting them over my lap to give them a good spanking, but I still don't see how a swat on the hand is child abuse. It is important at times to get your kid to stop doing certain things, and sometimes you simply aren't in a place where you can give a time out. My daughter kept shoving her hand into the baby's face, and I was walking through the mall, both girls were in the stroller (side by side). I said no several times, but then it became a game of "hey, I can get mommy to stop and talk to me by punching the baby in the face and yanking out her pacifier etc.. My oldest is 18 months old, she is still learning. The next time she did it (abotu 30 seconds later) I gave her a swat on the hand- it surprised her, she cried briefly (because she was surprised) then I got down and told her I was sorry, but it's not nice to hit the baby, it hurts her and about a minute later she reached over to do it again, but stopped herself.. She learned her lesson, and my youngest didn't have to deal with being abused.. How can someone say that's abuse (i'd almost say it would be abuse not to do that and let her haras her younger sister the whole time).

Jess - posted on 05/25/2010

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"I feel spanking, when used properly, is a useful tool to help them learn the proper way to behave. "

Sorry Christa, but that is such a huge contradiction. Do as I say, not as I do. "help them learn", implies you are teaching your child. Using aggression, teaches aggression. So what you are really teaching your child is a: Its OK to hit and b: Big people hit little people to get their own way. Your words say one thing and your actions show another.

Cleaning your child, hugging them, feeding them, clothing them.... all of this things bring you into their personal space, but none of them disrespects their bodies. Smacking/spanking does. When positive parenting and good communication is used effectively its the only tool you need to help your child learn the right behaviour.

LaCi - posted on 05/25/2010

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"Illegal to spank a person on the street because we dont like their behavior , in fact its assault , strike a partner at home and its abuse why should a child be treated with any less respect just because some people have this sense of ownership over them . "

Well, I wouldn't care if a random person on the street wanted to lick an electrical outlet, break their neck, run out in traffic, etc.


In regard to not spanking before two, I think it's reasonable. As well as not spanking after 12. I don't think I'll have any use for spanking by the time mine's three or four, honestly. Although I don't have much use for it now, he rarely does anything naughty and he almost always listens when I say no. Anyway, At that point (four or so) he will have possessions and freedoms I can take away which I think is considerably worse punishment than spanking, and much more effective. To spank a 13 year old is just ridiculous to me. Who does that? Teenagers are not children. I can't even imagine how hard I would have laughed If my mom wanted to spank me at 13 or 14! I mean... really? No! She'd have done way worse and taken my computer, phone, tv, etc away and left me BORED OUT OF MY MIND way worse than a swat on the butt. And way more effective.

Jaime - posted on 05/24/2010

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Loureen, I'm totally with you on this and I completely understand your frustration of the asinine excuses that people give for spanking their children. I wish spanking was outlawed in Canada altogether but at the very least I'm thankful that there are limitations on it.

Jaime - posted on 05/24/2010

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It's so silly to justify spanking by using examples of everyday necessities. Yes, we wash our kids' faces, bathe them, kiss and hug them but we are not infringing on their rights to be safe from physical harm (spanking hurts!). I agree that spanking is an infringement on a child's rights...parents are older and have more of an ability to be in control of their actions. Children need to learn control...not be controlled.

Christa - posted on 05/24/2010

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I do understand what you are saying Loureen. I just don't think spanking falls into the "violating" a child’s personal space/body. I also wipe her face without asking, fix her hair without asking, wipe her butt, wash her pits, etc. We violate their space to teach them how to do things. And each time we violate their space we make sure it’s not in an abusive way. I feel spanking, when used properly, is a useful tool to help them learn the proper way to behave.

Charlie - posted on 05/24/2010

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Grrr ok third time lucky , COM keeps eating my posts .

The reason a cop or boss cannot hug or kiss you is because it is uninvited , we have not given them permission to have that kind of relationship or access to our bodies , they are violating our bodily integrity .

People who have permission to our bodies include our children , family , friends but even they know what is acceptable , we make love to our partners because they have been invited to do so , however our family and friends are not , we hug our friends and kiss our children all because we as owners of our bodies and equally owners of their bodies have given permission to do so .

I dont think anyone deserves to have physical acts of aggression against them and i dont think anyone would ever invite it or give permission as punishment ( not including adults who derive pleasure from it ) Spanking i feel goes against a persons right to their bodies , we might have given birth to our children but we do not own them , i think their bodies need to be treated with as much respect as any other person, as individual human beings , as parents we can and should discipline but it can be done without intruding on their rights to bodily integrity .

feeding and clothing is completely different an adult can refuse being clothed or fed as one man in Australia has done as he was living a horrible quality of life and wanted to die , his wishes were respected by the judge and granted, he had for the first time control over his body , again his choice , a child on the other hand has to be fed to live .

GAH ! i hope that makes sense i am so frustrated at having to write it again LOL . cross fingers COM doesnt eat it !

Christa - posted on 05/24/2010

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It's also not ok for a cop or your boss to hug/kiss you or help you get dressed or feed you or do anything else that violates your personal space. To compare a parent/child relationship to any other relationships isn't a fair comparison.

Becky - posted on 05/24/2010

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Loureen, I said pretty much the same thing in another debate about spanking. If a cop pulled you over for speeding and smacked you on the butt, or your boss came in to reprimand you and pulled out his wooden spoon and took you over his knee, well, I'm pretty sure there would be come complaints filed! it's just not okay at all!! So why then, is it okay for us to do it to a child???

*Lisa* - posted on 05/24/2010

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Wow. I'd never really thought about it like that before. I guess it seemed normal to me because that's how I grew up. Will have to speak to my husband about all of this and re-think our ideas of discipline.

Jess - posted on 05/23/2010

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I find these topics really hard because I think children are just as entitled to protection as adults. The law protects us from being hit, but not the youngest and smallest people in our community. What is with that ? If someone hits me because they didn't like my actions I can have them charged and they get punished, but our children don't have that right and I think thats an imbalance of power !

Christa - posted on 05/22/2010

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I understand the no using objects or leaving marks, that's basic child protection laws. If you are hitting that hard that is abuse. Like I said I personally agree with the time restrictions, but I don't think making a law is the way to go. Every child is different and if a parent uses spanking at 18 months or 13 years and it is useful for their family then so be it. There are all kinds of things parents can do to "screw up" their kids. What will they outlaw next, yelling, time outs, grounding, . . . there are studies and opinions against just about every form of discipline out there. You have to let parents be parents. IMO.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/22/2010

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I agree with Krista. It's less about trying to take away parents right to spank their kids and more about trying to protect the children. It's just a compromise to try and find some middle ground.

Becky - posted on 05/21/2010

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Yes, that is the law here. It's also illegal to use an object of any sort and to hit above the neck (so on the face or head.) And of course, to leave bruises or welts. I don't believe the law violates my rights to parent the way I want to anymore than speed limits violate my rights to drive as fast as I feel like driving. (I always break those anyways, lol!) They are in place to protect children who are unable to protect themselves - in the case of children under 2 anyways. I don't think spanking is the best way to discipline a small child anyways. I don't think that they understand that you are hitting them to correct them.
As for children over 12, well, I think it becomes less effective then. Back when I hit 13, I told my mom she couldn't spank me anymore or I'd just become rebellious and behave worse. Yeah, I was kind of a sassy little brat! But it wasn't even the law back then.
I highly doubt anyone would ever get charged because they smack their 18 month old's hands when she keeps insisting on sticking her fingers in the electrical outlet. Like Krista said, I think it's in place to prevent people from going overboard, especially on very young children who are far more vulnerable to injury even from discipline someone might consider reasonable.

?? - posted on 05/21/2010

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I got slapped in the face when I was 13... but I deserved it, she should have slapped me harder, I might not have spent the next 5 years being stupid and fucking up so much if she had slapped me harder lol

[deleted account]

So where are the spanking police?



I personally never spanked my son before the age of 2. I do spank, but always at a very last resort. And yes, there is a huge difference between a swat on the butt versus a hard-core beating. My son is 5 now, and it's been at least 3 months since I had to spank him because all other methods failed. Over 12? Well when you start hitting puberty, I think it becomes more of a violation to a pre-teen body. JMO. It would weird me out to spank my 12 year old boy. I think the last time I was spanked, maybe 4th grade.

?? - posted on 05/21/2010

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I would be okay if they'd take my neighbors away, I like having less people surrounding my space than living in a suburb allows!

Dana - posted on 05/21/2010

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Of course you'd feel that way, they've brainwashed you. ;)



One minute it's this, the next minute they're taking your neighbors away.

Krista - posted on 05/21/2010

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Maybe I'm weird, but in the grand scheme of things, I don't consider it a particularly horrible case of oppression to not be allowed to spank my kid until he's two.

Besides, it's not like they're going to be peeking in your windows and reporting you if you give your toddler a swat on the butt in your own home.

Dana - posted on 05/21/2010

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Honestly, that's a really screwed up law. Especially after hearing so many people criticize our country for taking away rights. lol



Let me add, I don't spank my child.

Caitlin - posted on 05/21/2010

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Cuff me then, i'm guilty. On occasion, my 18 month old daughters hand gets a swat. She makes a game of doign things she knows are dangerous or not nice at all (like smothering her sister). I don't do it all the time but I have been known to do it to put a stop to her thinking its a funny game. I think it's ridiculous really to tell people how to raise their children, and make spanking illegal. It should only be illegal when it borders on child abuse...

?? - posted on 05/21/2010

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I think it can help to protect the childs right to have a safe environment to learn and grow. I don't think anyone has the right to hit another person for any reason, parenting or not. Just because you 'made' the person doesn't give you the right to lay your hands on them.

Christa - posted on 05/21/2010

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Don't you think that infringes on a person's right to parent? Sort of like the breastfeeding thread?

Krista - posted on 05/21/2010

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There are a lot of groups and people in Canada who wanted to see spanking outlawed altogether. This was seen as a reasonable compromise.

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