Thaddeus Baklinski


CMA calls for spanking to be banned: say allowing it is just ‘an excuse for poor parenting’

Thaddeus Baklinski

OTTAWA, September 5, 2012 ( - Hot on the heals of their declaration that pre-born babies are not human, the Canadian Medical Association is arguing that allowing parents the right to use force in disciplining their children is an “anachronistic excuse for poor parenting” and must be changed.

In an article in the CMA Journal titled “Positive parenting, not physical punishment,” published September 4th, John Fletcher, CMA Journal Editor-in-Chief, wrote that “While section 43 [of the Criminal Code] stands, it is a constant excuse for parents to cling to an ineffective method of child discipline … To have a specific code excusing parents is to suggest that assault by a parent is a normal and accepted part of bringing up children.”

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, states, “Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.”

However, a 2004 interpretation of the “spanking law” already banned spanking of children under 2 and over 12 and criminalized it at any age with an implement such as the wooden spoon.

That ruling stated, “Generally, s. 43 exempts from criminal sanction only minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature. On the basis of current expert consensus, it does not apply to corporal punishment of children under two or teenagers. . . . Discipline by the use of objects or blows or slaps to the head is unreasonable.”

Since 2004, several private members’ bills to ban corporal punishment have been tabled in Parliament but have failed.

Dr Fletcher of the CMA advises, however, that, “Parents need to be re-educated as to how to discipline their children … as there is little evidence of effectiveness and growing evidence of harm.”

Brian Rushfeldt of Canada Family Action criticized the CMA article for spouting anti-spanking rhetoric without offering a balanced perspective on what Fletcher himself called a “heated debate.”

“The CMA Journal piece uses the term ‘positive parenting’ but never cites what that means, except anti-spanking rhetoric,” Rushfeldt told LifeSiteNews.

“Fletcher also chose and cites only studies that support his ideology against spanking as a discipline method,” Rushfeldt said, giving as an example Fletcher’s statement that, “physical punishment during childhood is associated with behavioural problems in adult life, including depression, unhappiness, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, use of drugs and alcohol, and general psychological maladjustment.”

“To associate these issues with spanking in the manner he does is very irresponsible and intellectually dishonest,” Rushfeldt stated.

Rushfeldt also pointed out that “the author states that law enforcement officers, under current law, have the discretion to decide when assault has occurred, so what is to be accomplished by banning spanking?

“What is next for state interference with parenting – legislating what food can be given to children, or outlawing bedtimes?” Rushfeldt submitted.

The full text of John Fletcher’s article in the CMA Journal is available here.

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