Canadians want a century-old law that gives parents and teachers the right to spank children repealed, says a new survey sponsored by Toronto Public Health. About 70% of the 2,000 adults surveyed in the Canada-wide Decima Research poll said they believed teachers should not be allowed to physically punish children.
A further 51% of the respondents believed parents should not be allowed to use physical punishment as a disciplinary measure.
The so-called spanking law has been on the books in various forms since 1892, and is currently before the Supreme Court of Canada.
At issue is Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which permits the use of physical punishment and exempts caregivers from prosecution for assault as long as their use of force is "reasonable under the circumstances."
"We need to encourage positive methods of guiding children's behaviour and put an end to any activity that could harm, either physically or emotionally, our most vulnerable citizens," city councillor and Toronto public health board chairman Joe Mihevc said.
He said public health is one of more than 70 organizations supporting the repeal of Section 43 on the basis that it violates children's rights to equal protection from assault.
Last week, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of a Child asked Canada to remove Section 43.
"This licence to hit children is a violation of a child's basic right to security and equal protection of the law, as well as a major contributor to child abuse," said Corinne Robertshaw, national coordinator of Repeal 43 Committee.
"Canada should heed the UN committee and repeal Section 43," she said.
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