Doctors Call On Country To Ban Spanking, Experts call the practice – shown to increase drug abuse and anxiety – “poor parenting.” Canadian Experts Call for Nationwide Ban on Spanking, Canada’s top medical journal has called for the repeal of the country’s 120-year-old “spanking law,” which allows corporal punishment. In a strongly worded editorial published on September 4, John Fletcher, the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), called physical punishment an “anachronistic excuse for poor parenting.” The editorial accompanies a meta-analysis of 20 years of research about the ill effects of spanking, conducted by Joan Durant PhD of the University of Manitoba, first published in February and reprinted in the current volume of the CMAJ.
An estimated fifty percent of Canadian parents spank their children, and Canada, like the United States, protects parents’ right to physically discipline kids. Section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Code states, “A parent is justified in using force by way of correction if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.” Worldwide, more than 30 countries prohibit corporal punishment in the home including Austria, New Zealand, and Sweden.
Fletcher and Durant argue that current research shows spanking is an ineffective tool and that there is substantial evidence linking it to mental health issues including depression and substance abuse as well as to increased aggressive behavior. “Surely any bias should be toward protecting children, who are the most vulnerable,” writes Fletcher. “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. It is not. While section 43 stands, it is a constant excuse for parents to cling to an ineffective method of child discipline when better approaches are available.”
Spanking is a controversial issue in Canada, and Section 43 has been contested a number of times. Most recently, in 2004, the Supreme Court upheld it in a 6-3 ruling. A United Nations panel on children’s rights has called on the country to repeal the law. In response to the CMAJ, a spokesperson for Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson told the National Post, “Parents are in the best position to raise their children. We believe it is up to them, not the government, to decide what is best for their children so long as it is within reason.”