Madam Chair, Senators, on behalf of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada I would like to thank you for the opportunity to present to you our considerations with regard to S-207, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada is a research think tank based here in Ottawa. We are committed to bring together the latest research on social policy issues that face Canadian families and place it in the hands of decision makers, such as yourselves.
The Clerk has copies of my presentation, as well as several supporting documents and will distribute translated copies when they are available.
As you know, the spanking of children in Canada and indeed around the world has had its share of controversy in the past number of years. In 2004, this issue went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld that right. However, the issue continues to arise in the public square.
I think that it is imperative from the outset that we differentiate between child abuse and child discipline. According to HealthCanada, “Child abuse occurs when a parent, guardian or caregiver mistreats or neglects a child, resulting in:
- injury, or
- significant emotional or psychological harm, or
- serious risk of harm to the child.
Child abuse entails the betrayal of a caregiver’s position of trust and authority over a child. It can take many different forms.”
Of interest is that while discipline is referred to in many different Government of Canada documents, I could not find a definition of child discipline on the website. Nor could I find a definition of spanking on either the Canadian Medical Association or the Canadian Paediatric Society websites.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (1996) spanking is defined as:
- Physically non-injurious;
- Intended to modify behaviour; and
- Administered with an opened hand to the extremities or buttocks
Please let me be clear, child abuse is abhorrent, wrong and not acceptable.
Definitions are important here, they are not mere semantics. The words and definitions that we use greatly effect how the data sources are compared. What is included or excluded from the various data sets and analysis can greatly influence the outcome.
Download the full presentation here
Download the transcript of the full meeting here