Section 43 of the Criminal Code
Correction of Child by Force
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.
R.S.C., 1985, c .C-4
Violence as Correction
Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a defense to assault that justifies violence against children by teachers and parents in the name of correction. It became part of our Criminal Code in 1892 and has allowed severe spanking, slapping and striking with belts and other objects.
The January 30, 2004 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on the constitutionality of section 43 limited the scope of this defence but did not end it. Limiting legal approval of hitting children by restricting hitting to certain ages, degrees of force, and parts of the body is not the solution to the problems posed by this nineteenth century defence to assault. Legal approval for any hitting of children is harmful and unjust.
We believe section 43 is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We believe it has no place in a democratic society that values children and should be repealed.
The wording of the section will remain the same unless it is repealed or changed by Parliament. Those who use or support corporal punishment will continue to judge its acceptability by their own subjective standards of what is “reasonable”. See Constitutional Challenge, Comment on Supreme Court Decision for our view of the decision and its implications. We will continue to advocate complete repeal of this defence to assaults on children.
Our aim is to persuade Parliament and the Courts to end this harmful and unjust defence.
We invite you to review the information on our web site and join us in advocating the repeal of section 43.