. ST. THOMAS, ONT. - Seven children are back with their parents nearly three weeks after authorities took them from their home because they had been spanked. The courts have returned them with strict conditions.
An Ontario judge ruled Thursday that the children, ages six to 14, can live with their mother and father again in Aylmer, a town in southwestern Ontario.
But the parents have been told to refrain from spanking or hitting – at least for the time being.
Ontario Court Justice Michael O'Dea also ordered Child and Family Services to keep monitoring the youngsters after they're returned, and imposed travel restrictions on the family.
"Today we have moved closer toward that fragile, delicate balance between legitimate concerns of the state and the legitimate private rights of citizens," said Michael Menear, one of the defence lawyers. "The court order today is a truce only, not a complete resolution."
The case, which includes arguments about religious freedom, will be back before a judge on Sept. 6.
The mother and father belong to the Church of God, and have insisted that the Bible gives them the right to spank their children.
Witnesses said the youngsters kicked and shouted when they were taken away and placed in foster homes on July 6. Authorities moved in after the parents refused to promise not to spank the children anymore with rods, belts, or other objects.