Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of conviction that I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-329, a bill to repeal section 43 of the criminal code which 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.
Martin's Annual Criminal Code 2001 states:
The persons who may rely upon this section are schoolteachers, parents or those standing in the place of a parent...This section authorizes the use of force only where it is by way of correction, that is, for the benefit of the education of the child.
We live in a time when people of all ages, walks of life and viewpoints are following the philosophy of looking out for number one. That means they are concerned only with what is best, easiest or most beneficial for them. It is not easy to train, teach and discipline a child in the right way but it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to do that very thing.
Martin's Annual Criminal Code 2001 says the use of force is authorized when it is for correction to benefit the education of the child. In this day and age we confuse ourselves by always trying to be politically correct. Today it is politically correct to trumpet the rights of everyone from children to burrowing owls.
Rights are fine and good as long as we maintain a proper perspective. I am for human rights, children's rights and parental rights. I believe parents have the right to the best means at their disposal to train their children the way they feel they should.
Neither the Canadian Alliance nor I condone the abuse or neglect of children in any form. However we believe parents are the ones primarily responsible for the training and disciplining of their children. Children are not wards of the state. They are the gifts of God to a set of parents to whom He has given the right and responsibility of parenthood.
It is not for the government to interfere with the exercise of parental rights or responsibilities. Guidelines may be given. That has been done in section 43 of the criminal code. To remove that section would be to revoke the God given right parents have to carry out the proper training and disciplining they desire.
Protection is already provided in section 43 to ensure against physical abuse of the child. It also protects the parent or teacher who needs to take physical measures to properly contribute to the education or training of the child.
Many people today are neglecting and abusing their children by failing to correct, discipline, teach and train them properly. Some are afraid to take up the challenge for fear of damaging the poor child's self-esteem. Many are afraid of being accused of abuse and seeing their child whisked away by some bleeding heart social worker.
Some people are perhaps afraid because of recent Canadian incidents or other people's opinions but are totally frustrated by the difficulty of their own children. They are unable to cope and so they yell, nag and verbally abuse their children. This to me is a greater and more damaging way to abuse the child. It is much harder on the child's self-esteem than properly administered and well timed corporal correction.
Children cannot be left to themselves. They are not capable of making the proper decisions on their own. They must be taught and directed to understand and know the right choices. They must be taught honesty, work, kindness, respect and responsibility.
What child has real self-esteem if he has never experienced the loving correction of a parent? What child has real self-esteem if he finds he can no longer read well enough to keep up with the rest of his class because his teachers were afraid to take disciplinary action?
Our children have the right to be given proper attention, teaching, training, correction and, yes, even discipline. Discipline is more than talking, yelling or complaining. Many parents mistakenly assume child discipline is simply instructing children by telling them what to do. Instruction is only part of the process. Instruction is only what we say.
What we do plays a part. That is influence. It shows whether parents are honest and respectful of themselves. It shows who they really are. Through it the image of who and what they are is revealed. One's influence and image may contradict what one says.
A child is likely to follow the image and influence rather than the instruction of the parent. To learn to follow is the greater part of one's education. To learn to follow the right things requires the right discipline.
Martin's Criminal Code 2001 states that section 43 of the criminal code:
--authorizes the use of force only where it is by way of correction, that is, for the benefit of the child.
To learn to follow a course of life that results in the positive aspects of personhood requires numerous course corrections as does an airliner's trip across the Atlantic Ocean.
Discipline is for the benefit of the child. It assists the child in making the course corrections known by the parent or teacher to be necessary. Discipline and correction are for the benefit of one's education.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary , ninth edition, defines discipline as “mental, moral or physical training” or “adversity used to bring about such training”. It defines disciple which is of course the root word of discipline as “a follower or pupil of a leader or teacher”.
We were all made or created to learn mental, moral and physical lessons from physical consequences to our bodies. In Regina we learn to put on a coat in winter so our skin does not freeze when we step out the door. We learn not to eat little green apples or we will get a bellyache. We learn not to jump from the top of the apple tree lest we hurt ourselves. In other words, physical correction and discipline is a natural form of education and learning.
Diana Baumrind, a research psychologist at the University of California in Berkley, calls into question the current claim that any physical punishment is harmful to a child. She said in a recent study on the effects of corporal punishment:
We found no evidence for unique detrimental effects of normative physical punishment...I am not an advocate of spanking, but a blanket injunction against its use is not warranted by the evidence. It is reliance on physical punishment, not whether or not it is used at all, that is associated with harm to the child.
Baumrind said that in the absence of compelling evidence of harm parental autonomy and family privacy should be protected.
As has already been mentioned, Ontario Superior Court Justice McCombs held up the constitutionality of corporal punishment in his recent ruling and said it was within the sphere of respectability and exceptionality.
Why would we want to undo something as important and reasonable as that? I could never support such a limitation on the freedom of parents and the right of children to receive proper and lawful discipline from their parents and teachers.
There are many ways to discipline. Every child is different. Corporal correction is not the first line of discipline. Of my four children three required almost no corporal discipline. However one of my children's needs was entirely different. I needed the option of section 43. I strongly oppose the repeal of section 43 of the criminal code. I find the idea oppressive and offensive.