Dec 27/10 Group calls for end to corporal punishment
Toronto Sun – In an article referring to the deaths of Emmily Lucas and Randal Dooley, Toronto Sun reporter, Sam Pazzano, writes that both slain Toronto children shared the pain of extreme violence disguised as corporal punishment and that it was the extreme suffering of such helpless children – and thousands of others in Canada who endure less severe treatment – that drove Corinne Robertshaw, a retired Vancouver lawyer, to create the Repeal 43 Committee. The group aims to outlaw corporal punishment in Canada and has been lobbying Ottawa since 1994. The practice has been banned in 29 countries in the last few years, starting with Sweden in 1979. “By justifying hitting our children, our Criminal Code puts the seal of approval on pain and fear as a method of correction”, Robertshaw said. See Letters/Articles.
Dec 21/10 New UNICEF advisor urges national children’s advocate
Ottawa Citizen – Marvin Bernstein, former Children’s Advocate for Saskatchewan, a post he left earlier this year, has been tapped by UNICEF Canada to champion the rights of children at the national level. Armed with lessons learned from the Saskatchewan post and decades of experience in child protection in Ontario, Bernstein is closing in on a new target – federal politicians and policy-makers. A 62-year-old lawyer, who specialized in family law and dispute resolution, is now UNICEF’s chief adviser on advocacy, a newly created position. Bernstein plans to visit Ottawa in early 2011 to lobby government and opposition MPs and senators on the need to create a national children’s advocate. Among other things, the national advocate would help ensure that laws or policies are viewed through the prism of how they would affect children’s well being, Bernstein said.
Dec 16/10 Ontario father pleads guilty to severe spanking of 9-year-old
The Sudbury Star – A 9-year-old Sudbury girl received such a severe spanking from her father, that a couple of days after the punishment she had black and blue bruises on her entire buttocks. The 45-year-old father pleaded guilty to assault. He had not lived with the girl for a couple of years, but was in frequent contact with her and her mother. He said he would to do whatever the CAS or probation services asks as he wants to regain the right to see the child more frequently. He said he has no intentions of ever doing this again. The court ordered a suspended sentence and probation for 18 months.
Dec 15/10 Final arguments in trial for beating death of 2-year-old
Toronto Star – Final arguments by Crown and defence lawyers are put to Judge Nola Garton in the beating death of 2-year-old Emmily Lucas. The child was beaten to the point of convulsions on Nov. 13, 2003: her body covered in bruises and her head and spinal column severely injured. She died in a Toronto hospital 10 days later.
Both counsel agree Emmily was killed either by her mother, Erika Mendieta, or the mother’s former live-in boyfriend, John Bermudez. He gave evidence under protection of the Canada Evidence Act that he beat the child for crying when Mendieta was out picking up her 4 other children from school. This means his testimony can’t be used to prosecute him and he has never offered a sworn confession to police.
The Crown contends Bermudez is lying and that his evidence is just an attempt to exonerate Mendieta; noting that the pair met several times for coffee between Mendieta’s first and second trial. “You don’t drink coffee with the man that murdered your baby…but you might if you had killed your baby and he was going to help get you out of it”, said Crown counsel. Judge Garton agreed to rule on the case alone, using evidence from the second trial, and will return her verdict on Jan. 17.
Dec 10/10 Edmonton parents sentenced for ‘spanking’ 14-year-old daughter
QMI Agency – A bizarre case of an Edmonton couple convicted of assault for using a belt to spank their sexually active 14-year-old daughter ended after the father was escorted from the courtroom for refusing to listen to the judge, a spectator was ejected for wearing glasses containing a video camera and a mass chorus of objections was loudly raised after a packed room of supporters were criticized.
Lawrence Zachow, mortgage broker and pastor, 60, and wife, Aida Calagui-Zachow, 54, were charged with assault with a weapon for the Jan/08 strapping of their daughter. The father had “guided her to her bedroom by placing his hand on her neck and pulling her hair” and the mother had struck the girl with a belt “at least three times” on the buttocks on the orders of the father, who had pinned her down and held her legs over her head. The teen told a school official and police were called.
The hearing began with Zachow repeatedly demanding that Judge Stevens-Guille cease the case against him and his wife. When Zachow refused to stop despite insistence, he was removed from the court and later let back in, but continued disputing the court’s jurisdiction. The Crown prosecutor told the court that Zachow has ‘zero respect for the law’ and later referred to his many supporters in the courtroom as being ‘like-minded.’
The judge found the strapping proven beyond a reasonable doubt but nevertheless found parents guilty of the lesser offence of assault and sentenced each to 10 days in jail, reduced by the 5 days they spent in jail after being arrested and charged. The couple were also fined $500 fine for failing to appear in court for their trial.
The judge noted the parents have shown no remorse and feel their religious beliefs give them the right to discipline their children as they see fit. ‘Whatever one’s belief in higher authority, if you live in Canada you are subject to the laws of Canada as interpreted by the courts, in this case the Supreme Court of Canada…Spare the rod and spoil the child is not the byword of the discipline of children in this country in 2010.’ he said. See The Law chapter for Dec 9/10 judgment by M.G. Stevens-Guille, Prov. Ct. J.
Comment: Hitting a child with a strap is not what most people consider ‘spanking’.
In the Ontario Superior Court decision in 2000 on the constitutionality of S. 43, the Court stated: All social science witnesses in this application accepted a definition of spanking as “the administering of one or two mild to moderate ‘smacks’ with an open hand, on the buttocks or extremities which does not cause physical harm”. Calling this strapping a ‘spanking’ minimizes the seriousness of the offence.
OneNewsNow, Dec 22 quotes Dave Quist, Institute of Marriage and Family Planning Canada, as saying that the Zachow’s are considering an appeal and that the decision ‘brings into question the freedom of parents to make decisions in what they think is best for their children, and I think that’s something that certainly we as an organization are watching and following.’ Is Quist suggesting that parents who strike a 14-year-old daughter with a belt on the buttocks at least three times while being pinned down with her legs held over her head is a decision that parents should be free to make?
Dec 8/10 Bullying rampant in Ontario schools despite awareness campaigns
Toronto Sun – Despite a steady stream of awareness campaigns, bullying remains rampart in Ontario schools. Nearly 1 in 3 students is a bullying victim according to 2009 stats from the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. A 4-year-old Rexdale boy was too scared to go back to his kindergarten class after being bitten on the neck by another 4-year-old. The Toronto Catholic District School Board was unable to speak specifically about the case but a spokesperson said that bullies often learn their behaviour from parents, and that that would be a good place to start addressing the problem.
Dec 7/11 Eric Jackman gives $ 5M to U of T Institute of Child Study
Toronto Star – In making his donation to the University of Toronto Institute, Jackman said: ‘A lot of money goes into higher education, but as far as I’m concerned, primary education and early child development are the most important things in society. If we can get our children off on the right start, healthy kids will grow up to be healthy, productive adults.’
Dec 1/10 Senator Plett speaks against Bill S-204 to repeal S.43
Hansard – Senator Donald Plett, Landmark, Manitoba, a recently appointed Senator and former President of the Conservative Party of Canada, spoke in opposition to Senator Hervieux-Payette’s Bill S-204. He voiced a number of objections to the Bill. For our response to his objections, see Senate Bills to Repeal S. 43, Senate Bill S-204 to Repeal S. 43.
Nov 30/10 Mendieta trial will proceed before judge alone
Toronto Sun – The 2nd degree murder trial of a North York mother accused of beating her toddler to death will proceed before a judge alone. Judge Nola Garton discharged the jury that had been hearing the trial because of the distracting influence of a former prosecutor in the public gallery while the mother was giving her evidence. She said she had to declare the mistrial after jurors sent her a note complaining of the distracting presence of the man. Both Crown and defence lawyers agreed to the trial continuing in front of Justice Nola Garton without a jury. The judge then started the third trial immediately, using the evidence put before the jury, plus Mendieta’s evidence at the mistrial hearing. Closing arguments will be made Dec. 14.
Nov 27/10 Swedish parents jailed for beating children regularly since age 3
The Local: Sweden’s News in English – A Swedish court has jailed the parents of three children who were regularly beaten since the age of 3 in what the parents claimed was a method of discipline prescribed in the Bible. The Karlstad couple was imprisoned for 9 months. Corporal punishment, formally outlawed in Sweden in 1979, was a regular feature in the lives of 3 of the couple’s 4 children. The court was told the couple had used a hairbrush, wooden plank or hand to punish their 3 eldest children.
Comment: A Jan 2/11 article in the Toronto Sun (‘Grit Senator wants to ban spanking’) refers to this case, saying the parents were jailed for having ‘spanked’ their 3 oldest children, but makes no mention of the fact that the children had been hit with a hairbrush and wooden plank since age 3. (See Letters/Articles for letter to editor.)
Referring to the Senator’s Bill to repeal S. 43, Andrea Mrozek, Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, says: ‘The law should be left alone, it’s not the responsibility of govt to act as a parent, responsible parents know the difference between spanking as discipline and abuse. Research does not show that spanking done appropriately harms children.’ No doubt, the Swedish parents referred to above and the Edmonton parents (Dec 10/11) would agree.
Nov 21/10 Tasmania’s Commissioner for Children wants cp law amended
www.themercury.com.au – Tasmania is the only Australian state that gives parents the explicit right to physically correct a child using “any force that is reasonable in the circumstances”. However, community views about what is reasonable vary significantly. The new Tasmanian Commissioner for Children, Aileen Ashford, says the State Government needs to look at amending the legislation to make the safety and wellbeing of children paramount. She said the issue had not progressed since 2003 when a Tasmanian Law Reform Institute report found the state’s existing law unclear.
“The institute put up two options for reform: to prohibit the use of physical punishment or clarify the law by further defining what type and/or degree of punishment is reasonable or unreasonable,” Commissioner Ashford said. “I urge the Government to seriously consider amendments to the legislation. “This is particularly important as Australia is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which clearly obliges member states to adopt measures to protect children from all forms of violence.” The UN has already recommended that all corporal punishment and all other “cruel and degrading forms of punishment” of children be stopped.
Nov 16/10 Time for ban on hitting children
Toronto Star – A letter to the editor re the trial of a mother accused of beating her 2-year-old daughter to death calls corporal punishment a dangerous form of discipline that can lead to physical and emotional damage and even to death. As we approach National Child Day, it reminds us that we should reflect on why we haven’t yet repealed S. 43 of the Criminal Code. See Articles/Letters.
Nov 16/10 Prosecution says Mendieta witness, Bermudez, is a ‘proven liar’
Toronto Sun – John Bermudez, former boyfriend of a mother accused of beating her toddler to death, says he committed the heinous crime, but is not prepared to accept a lengthy prison sentence for the 2003 murder of 34-month-old Emmily Lucas. Bermudez was testifying at the 2nd-degree murder trial of Erika Mendieta, a 34-year-old mother of 5, who has maintained her innocence in the death of her daughter. He said he slapped Emmily twice and pushed her twice while babysitting her and his infant son, Max, at their North York home, but could give no details. The Crown suggested the real reason he could give no details was that he didn’t kill the child and that Bermudez is a proven liar intent on helping his former lover.
Bermudez admitted he had repeatedly lied to police officers in several court proceedings with stories ranging from his being upstairs in a shower or playing video games while Emmily was beaten. His relationship with Mendieta is over, said Bermudez, but he still has coffee occasionally with her at a coffee shop in their Jane-Finch Toronto neighbourhood. He has sought protection of the Canada Evidence Act, which means his evidence during this trial cannot be used against him, except for the offences of perjury or giving contradictory evidence. The Charter of Rights also guarantees that any evidence Bermudez provides at the trial cannot be used against him.
Nov 11/10 Five-month-old boy dies after suffering injuries in home
Toronto Sun – Two months after suffering critical injuries in September, 5-month-old Adriel Da Silva Garcia, dies in a Toronto hospital. Ronnie Munoz-Hernandez, 21, was watching the child at a home in the Black Creek area and is wanted for aggravated assault. The charge may be upgraded after an autopsy is conducted. Police are concerned the man, who was not a blood relative, may have fled to his native Columbia. No information has been released on the child’s injuries.
Nov 10/10 Mother didn’t notice dying toddler’s bruised face
Toronto Star – Erika Mendieta looked at her unconscious daughter, lying battered and bruised in a Toronto hospital bed, but despite the bruises on Emmily Lucas’s tiny face, told the court she didn’t recognize that her daughter had been beaten. Her counsel is arguing that Mendieta’s boyfriend, John Bermudez, beat the child. “There’s no way you could not have known someone hit her in the face”, Crown counsel said, suggesting that Mendieta had lied to police because she had beaten Emmily herself. She told the court she had beaten her children and likely caused some of the bruises to Emmily’s face but did not kill her. Bermudez will give evidence that he is responsible for the child’s death.
Nov 11/10 Mother says boyfriend confessed in 2009 to causing child’s death
Toronto Sun – Erika Mendieta, the mother accused of 2nd-degree murder in the beating death of her 2-year-old daughter, Emmily Lucas, tells the court her boyfriend, John Bermudez, confessed to her in summer 2009 that he killed her daughter, saying he hit and threw her on Nov 13/03 and she hit her head on a TV screen. Mendieta said she accepted responsibility for the child’s death because she didn’t take her to a doctor after she claims the child fell down stairs 2 days before going into convulsions on Nov 13. She didn’t do so because Emmily had bruises on her torso and limbs from ‘discipline’ and she feared losing all her 5 children to Children’s Aid if they discovered the signs of abuse on Emmily. (The first report of the trial was on Oct 27. See news items below for Oct 27 and subsequent reports. The trial is on going at Toronto’s University Avenue courthouse. No reports so far have appeared in the Globe and Mail.)
Nov 10/10 Despite battered, bruised body, mother failed to recognize beating
Toronto Star – Published on line. Erika Mendieta looked at her battered, bruised and unconscious daughter, Emmily Lucas, in hospital but told the court that despite the bruises on the child’s tiny face, she failed to recognize that the 2-year-old had been beaten. Crown attorney suggested there was no way she could not have known that someone had hit the child and that Mendieta was lying because she had beaten Emmily herself. Mendieta told the court she beat her children and likely caused some of the bruises on Emmily’s body but didn’t kill her. She says her boyfriend, John Bermudez, beat the toddler while she was out picking up her 4 other children. Bermudez is expected to give evidence. Mendieta was arrested in 2005 and charged with 2nd-degree murder but the case ended in a mistrial.
Nov 10/10 Mendieta testifies she physically disciplined and bruised toddler
Toronto Star – Emmily Lucas would be 10 this January, had she not died as a toddler at the hands of someone much larger and older than she’s ever be. Mendieta’s counsel argue that her boyfriend, John Bermudez, beat Emmily so severely that her limbs stiffened and she started vomiting and convulsing before being rushed to hospital where she died of severe brain injury 10 days later. Police wiretapped Mendieta’s phone and say she made statements that implicate her in Emmily’s death. She admits that she physically disciplined Emmily, leaving bruises all over her body but insists she never struck Emmilly on the head. She told the court that at first she thought Emmily died because she had fallen down stairs a few days earlier and that initially she didn’t want to believe her boyfriend, Bermudez, responsible. See Articles/Letters 1990 – 2010 for letter to editor printed Nov 16 by Toronto Star.
Nov 9/10 Mendieta tells of her childhood abuse and hitting of own children
Toronto Sun – Updated on line. Mendieta describes her abusive upbringing in her native Honduras at the hands of her aunt and further abuse by her alcoholic mother when the mother immigrated to Canada when Mendieta was 7. She ran away from home at age 12, barely finished Grade 8, and conceived her first child at 15. Mendieta admitted she inflicted corporal punishment; ‘spanking’ Emmily and her other children with a rubber-soled slipper on the buttocks and limbs but never on the face or head. Mendieta testified she has lost all contact with her children and that her last child, a son by Bermudez, has been adopted by another family.
Oct 27/10 Mendieta trial continues in beating death of 2-year-old Emmily Lucas
Toronto Sun – Mendieta’s counsel tells the jury that Emmily was not killed by her mother but by the mother’s then live-in boyfriend, John Bermudez, when she left Emmily alone with him to pick up her older children on Nov 13/03. Crown asserts Mendieta caused her child’s death by inflicting “blunt force trauma” to her head and neck.
In an opening statement to the jury, Crown counsel said Emmily had lived since her birth Jan/01 with her aunt. When Mendieta took her for a two-week visit in July/03 and refused to return her, the aunt went to court for permanent custody but the case was adjourned to Nov 23/03. On Nov 13/03, Emmily was rushed from her mother’s home to hospital: unconscious, barely breathing and her body covered with bruises. Ten days later, she died. Counsel for Mendieta said she blamed herself for her daughter’s death because she hadn’t taken her to a doctor after Emmily had fallen down a flight of stairs the day before. “She was afraid to tell the police because she didn’t want to lose her four other children.” Mendieta had ‘disciplined’ Emmily, leaving bruises on her arms, legs and buttocks, but had never hit her in the face or head and it took months for medical authorities to determine how a head injury took Emmily’s life, said her counsel.
Oct 27/10 Mother will take stand to deny causing death of 2-year-old daughter
National Post – On first day of the trial of Erika Mendieta, 34, for 2-degee murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Emmily Lucas, her lawyer tells the jury that Mendieta will take the stand to deny causing her daughter’s death. The 34-year-old Toronto woman is accused of killing her daughter on Nov 13/03 by blows to the head and neck in her townhouse near Jane and Steeles before calling 911 for assistance. Her lawyer revealed in his opening statement that Mendieta had previously physically disciplined Emmily and would strike her on the arms, legs, and buttocks. It was wrong to do that, he said, but those bruises did not cause the child’s death.
New Zealand police continue to review results of corporal punishment ban
2010 – NZ police submit 7th review of their response to incidents of alleged assaults on children, following the 2007 repeal of the law that allowed corporal punishment. The review covers Dec/09 to June/10 and finds an increase in the number of events attended by police and that this is consistent with reduced tolerance and increased reporting of child assaults. 416 child assault events were considered for the review: 25 were identified as ‘smacking’ and 38 as ‘minor acts of physical discipline. The other 353 were other child assaults, not specified, or no offence disclosed. Of the 25 ‘smacking’ events, 1 resulted in prosecution, 13 in warnings and 11 in other or no further action taken. Of the 38 ‘minor acts of physical discipline’, 2 resulted in prosecution, 12 in warnings and 24 in other or no further action taken. See International Developments chapter, New Zealand for other information and link.
Comment: The 2007 change in NZ law allows reasonable force for, among other things, preventing harm to a child or other person but states that this and nothing in the common law justifies force for ‘correction’. In specifically prohibiting force for correction, the NZ law reflects the observation of the UN Committee on the UNCRC that simply repealing authorization of corporal punishment is not enough. The UN Committee recommends an explicit ban on corporal punishment to make it absolutely clear that the criminal law on assault applies to smacking and hitting children, whether termed discipline or ‘reasonable correction’. In this and in allowing reasonable force to prevent harm, the NZ law is very similar to Bill S-209 passed by our Senate in 2008.
2010 Corporal Punishment – National and International Perspectives
Legal Assistance Centre, Windhoek, Namibia, published with support from Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs – This excellent report deals with effects of corporal punishment, defences, alternatives, and international developments, including those in Namibia and other African countries. Its Introduction includes a quote from the UN Committee that makes the following points – all of which are relevant to Bill S-209 passed in 2008 and Bill S-204 reintroduced in 2010 and currently before the Senate.
- Parenting, especially of babies and young children, demands frequent physical actions to protect them and these are quite distinct from physical punishment intended to cause some degree of pain, discomfort or humiliation.
- Physical force to protect a child or restrain a child who might otherwise injure others is also quite distinct from physical punishment.
- The law in all States, explicitly or implicitly, allows the use of non- punitive and necessary force to protect people.
- The law recognizes that there are exceptional circumstances in which teachers and others working with children may be confronted by dangerous behaviour that justifies the use of reasonable to restraint or control it. There is a clear distinction between force for such protection and force to punish. Click for link to Namibia report.
Oct 25/10 Third CIS study on incidence of reported child abuse and neglect
Public Health Agency of Canada – This is the 3rd Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect. Based on a representative sample of 15,980 maltreatment investigations by child welfare organizations in Canada, the study estimates that 235,842 maltreatment reports were investigated across the country. This is about the same number as in 2003, but nearly double the number in 1998. In 17,212 substantiated investigations, physical abuse was the primary form of maltreatment. The incidents of maltreatment that begin as corporal punishment for correction will be provided when all the data is analyzed. See Research chapter for link.
Oct 23/10 BC man jailed in US for killing 5-year old stepdaughter
Toronto Star – While holidaying in Washington State with his wife and stepdaughter, 5-year old Clare Shelswell, stepfather Peter Wilson, 29, pleaded guilty to slitting the child’s throat after arguing with her mother over discipline. He had been taking medication for bipolar disorder. The court sentenced Wilson to 55 years in prison for first-degree murder – double the standard sentence – because the child was a vulnerable victim dependent on Wilson.
National Child Day Nov 20 re UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
For several years, we have been involved in preparing a newspaper ad for NCD calling for repeal of S. 43 and listing a growing number of organizations that support the campaign to rid the Criminal Code of this 19th century approach to bringing up children. Unfortunately, this year funds to place an ad were not available but we will email senators asking them to pass Bill S-204 and urge organizations concerned with the wellbeing of children to do the same.
Oct 23/10 Russell Williams murders – how to make a psychopath
Globe and Mail – A 2-page Comment article in the Globe examines the neuroscience of psychopathy in an attempt to understand the interplay of genetics and environment that produces criminals like Williams, the convicted rapist/murderer and former colonel and Air Force commander at CFB Trenton, Ontario. A growing number of neuroscientists now see that environmental factors such as neglect or poor bonding with parents can lead to deficits in the brain that can be seen in brain images of children as young as 5. The theory is that neglect, abuse and early trauma somehow desensitize children to the feelings of others. Every child experiencing such trauma doesn’t grow up to be a psychopath says one of the researchers, but it certainly increases the odds.
Oct 19/10 United Arab Emirates court upholds beating for ‘discipline’
Globe and Mail – According to the Supreme Court of the UAE, sharia law allows a man to beat his wife and children to ‘discipline’ them provided the beating does not leave bruises. The judgment was rendered in the case of a man who was fined for slapping and kicking his daughter and slapping his wife, injuring both slightly. Scholars disagree on what constitutes ‘beating’ but agree that it must not be severe. Generally, the UAE has very liberal laws compared to its neighbour, Saudi Arabia.
Oct 11/10 Quebec girl, 13, dies after being struck in face by father
Windsor Star – Prosecutors have yet to decide if a 71-year-old father, Moussa Sidime, will be charged with murder or manslaughter for allegedly hitting his 13-year-old daughter, Noutene, in the face Oct. 6 at their home in Longueuil. He was charged with aggravated assault but Noutene died in hospital 3 days later. Neighbours said the hitting resulted from a disagreement over religion. The coroner conducting the examination was unable to determine if the blow to the head was directly responsible for Noutene’s death and has sent the file to other medical specialists for review. Friends and family from Guinea, West Africa, described Noutene as a happy girl but a neighbour said the girl had grown more reserved and quiet over the past 2 years and that the father was very demanding and could be heard yelling at Noutene and her mother.
Oct 6/10 Senate debate on Bill S-204 to repeal S. 43 may resume in November
Conservative Senator Donald Plett, Manitoba, asks for time to prepare his notes in speaking to Senator Hervieux-Payette’s bill and debate is adjourned. Senator Plett is a graduate of Red River College, a businessman and former President of the Conservative Party. Prime Minister Harper appointed him to the Senate in Aug/09.
Oct 4/10 Ontario father sentenced for assaulting 6-year old daughter
Sarnia Observer – A father who struck his 6-year-old daughter and left a hand-shaped bruise on her face was sentenced to the 30 days served in pre-sentence custody and placed on probation for 18 months. He must take counseling for parenting, anger management, and substance abuse and can’t administer corporal punishment to any child in his care. Access to his daughter will be controlled through other court proceedings. The girl had taken a snack from the refrigerator, contrary to her father’s rules. When he yelled at her and she began to cry, he slapped and sent her to her room. A single parent, he admitted hitting the child and said he intended to put a lock on the fridge door to prevent ‘future infractions’. “There’s no excuse”, said Justice Deborah Austin. “She bore a bruise for wanting a pudding.” A court order prohibiting media identification of the child prevents publication of the father’s name.
2010 UNICEF Canada calls for National Commissioner for Children
UNICEF Canada’s 2010 Report It’s Time for a National Children’s Commissioner for Canada calls for an independent national Children’s Commissioner that would put children’s best interests on the public agenda, encourage governments to coordinate their efforts and promote better laws, policies and services for children. Canada’s 9 million children comprise a quarter of our population but there is no one at the federal level with a specific mandate to represent their interests, notes the Report. UNICEF Canada supports repeal of S. 43 and is listed on our Supporting Organizations chapter. See the UNICEF website for this excellent 17-page report.
Sept 24/10 Toronto man charged in connection with assault on 5-month old
Toronto Star – Police looking for Ronnie Munoz-Hernandez, 21, on a charge of aggravated assault on a baby boy, have charged Juan Neira-Penaloza, 31, as an accessory to the assault. The baby was brought to hospital with serious injuries Sept 12 and remains in an induced coma in critical condition. Munoz-Hernandez was taking care of the baby when he suffered the life-threatening injuries.
Sept 22/10 U of Montréal studies harsh parenting and anxiety disorders
ScienceDaily – Researchers at the Université de Montréal say grabbing a child firmly by the arm, yelling and repeatedly punishing him or her may not be without long-terms risks. They are studying how this harsh parenting can impair the emotional development of a child, possibly leading to anxiety disorders such as social phobia, separation anxiety and panic attacks and are in the process of recruiting 120 youths aged 12 to 17 years for the study. Professor Françoise Maheu, Department of Psychiatry and lead investigator said, “We know that common practices such as spanking or excessive punishment do not instill a strong discipline. Quite the opposite, they have a lasting psychological impact on children.” His hypothesis is that two specialized structures, the amygdala and the anterior congulate cortex, which form the neural fear circuit, play a role in mediating the anxiety associated with harsh parenting.
Sept/10 Children whose parents use cp more likely to use it on peers/siblings
A University of Colorado study examines the relationship between parents and children’s approval of corporal punishment and the relationship between children’s experience of cp and their preference for hitting to resolve interpersonal conflict. It concludes that parents who experienced frequent cp as children perceived it as acceptable and frequently spanked their own children. The children, in turn, advocated spanking as a disciplinary method and preferred aggressive conflict resolution strategies with peers and siblings. See Research chapter for other information and link.
Sept 13/10 Constitutional reforms in Turkey to protect children against violence
Globe and Mail – Turkish voters approve constitutional reforms aimed at strengthening Turkish democracy. They include provisions that a child has a right to adequate protection and care, to maintain a personal relationship with parents unless explicitly contrary to his best interests, and require the State to take measures to protect the child against all forms of abuse and violence.
Sept 10//10 ‘Invest in Kids’ closes for financial reasons
Toronto Star – Invest in Kids is a national organization dedicated to supporting and educating parents in raising children. It has developed training and resource materials for parents and professionals for this purpose but will close at end of Sept due to lack of funds.
Sept 2/10 Kenya prohibits all corporal punishment of children
Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children – Kenya’s new constitution adopted in August protects every person from corporal punishment, including children, making it the second African state this year to legally protect children in all settings, including the home. Article 29 of the Constitution states that every person “has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes… the right not to be subjected to corporal punishment or treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading manner”. The effect of the prohibition is immediate. The law change comes shortly after a 4-day “Regional Youth Forum Against Violence” in Accra, Ghana, in which children said violence in all forms was not only an affront to their dignity but also affected their well-being and overall development in society. Marta Santos Pais attended the forum as her first assignment since assuming the role of UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Violence Against Children.
Aug 28/10 Calgary mother charged with attempted murder of 5-year old
National Post – A 5-year-old boy arrived in hospital in May with breathing problems and struggling to stand up. His mother, Stacey Joy Bourdeaux, is charged with his attempted murder, choking with intent and failing to provide the necessities of life. As investigators probed her background, a charge of second-degree murder was also laid against her in the death of her 10-month-old son, Shawn Ronald Fewer, in 2004. Initial investigation at that time by police and medical examiner did not turn up any evidence of foul play. New information resulted in the murder charge. It is the second such Calgary case in a matter of days, as Shelby Anna Herchuk was also charged with 2nd-degree murder of her 26-day-old baby who died of trauma to the head.
Aug 25/10 U of Toronto study finds babies feel and remember stress
Toronto Star – University of Toronto researchers led by psychologist David W. Haley find that infants can feel stress all over again if they expect the same upsetting event to occur. Experts note that this is in line with attachment theory that having a responsive primary caregiver gives babies a sense of security and is the foundation of life-long development, behaviour and relationships, and that emotional deprivation in the first year of life can have a profound long-term impact on mental health. The study is reported in Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society of international scientists. See Research chapter for more information and link.
Aug 24/10 US religious conservatives continue to reject UNCRC
Mother Jones – Every UN member but the US and Somalia have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the only reason Somalia hasn’t is that it’s not had a functioning government capable of doing so. But even that wretched country last year announced plans to ratify the treaty. So that leaves the U.S. as the only civilized country in the world that won’t ratify an international document pledging to create a legal culture that acts in the best interests of the child. During the 2008 campaign President Obama observed, “It’s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land.” His administration has attempted to revive efforts to ratify after more than 20 years of political wrangling. One reason for opposition is that religious conservatives, especially in the home schooling movement, object that under the UNCRC, “parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children”.
Aug 23/10 Aggressive/controlling partners more likely to spank
HealthDay News – New research from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine finds that young children raised in households where one or both parents are aggressive or violent toward each other are more likely to be spanked. The study focuses on more minor aggressive behaviors between parents (rather than violent domestic abuse) such as preventing a partner from seeing friends or family, withholding or taking money, or insulting and criticizing. The study included nearly 2000 families with a 3-year-old child from large cities across the US. The author of the study, Catherine Taylor, an assistant professor of community health sciences, said that parents in such relationships may not realize how the stress they’re experiencing can play out in how they choose to discipline their children. See Research chapter for more information and link.
Aug 20/10 Mother bailed in attempted murder of teen daughter, Bahar
Toronto Star – Johra Kaleki, 38, charged with the attempted murder of her 19-year-old daughter, Bahar Ebrahimi, in a so-called honour crime, is released on bail. An Aug 11/10 report by The Gazette, states the mother of four has been jailed since June, when she was arrested for allegedly attacking her daughter for staying out overnight and not returning to the family’s Dorval, Quebec home until morning. The mother is charged with attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon. A date for her preliminary hearing will be set Aug. 30. See our June 15/10 item for other information.
Comment: As listed below, there have been several media reports this year of teen-age daughters whose parents have been convicted or accused of their murder, attempted murder or manslaughter. The victims in all cases had parents who had immigrated to Canada. Most were described by the media as possible ‘honour’ killings; often linked to social or sexual behaviour perceived as wrong by the parents.
July 15 Aminat Magomadova, age 14, mother from Chechnya
June 17 Aqsa Parvez, father from Pakistan
June 16 Tiffany Gayle, age 15, parents from Jamaica
Feb 2 Zainab, Sahari and Geeti Shafia, age 13 to 19, parents from Dubai, Afghanistan
Jan 10 Ashna Khanna, age 14, father from India
To describe these brutal assaults and murders as motivated by honour comes close to accepting the attackers own rationalization for his actions. It would instead be more accurate to describe such attacks simply as an abuse of power over teen-age female children by domineering parents determined to physically control them, and take revenge if the teen-ager resists. It should be recognized that other family members, including female members, sometimes accept or participate in the abuse. Knowing the stresses many new immigrants experience in adapting to a new country and the possible mental health problems that may result, persons in contact with immigrant children need help in recognizing the danger some of these children and teen-agers face.
Aug 13/10 Alberta teens charged with assault for hazing incidents
Calgary Herald – Two teenagers are charged with assault for a string of hazing incidents in July in which a number of teenage boys were assaulted in three separate incidents at various locations in Lethbridge. The incidents involved ‘paddling’ or striking younger students on the buttocks with a broken goalie stick or skateboard. Police warn they will show ‘zero tolerance’ and lay more charges against youths if the practice doesn’t stop.
Aug 1/10 Poland’s ban on corporal punishment now in effect
Global Initiative Newsletter – In May/10 Poland amended its Family Code by inserting a new Article that prohibits all corporal punishment in childrearing. The new law ‘On the Prevention of Family Violence’ states: Persons exercising parental care, care or alternative care over a minor are forbidden to use corporal punishment, inflict psychological suffering and use any other forms of child humiliation. (unofficial translation).
July 29/10 Regina students charged in apparent school hazing
Leader Post – Three 17-year-old Campbell Collegiate students are charged with assault with a weapon for allegedly paddling two younger students with a fence board in June in what is believed to have been a hazing incident. Public school spokesman said violent hazing such as paddling ‘is bullying of the worst kind …paddling is such a friendly term. It’s not. It’s assault, and we don’t tolerate it at all.’ The cases are adjourned to Aug. 25.
July 26/10 Alta dayhome operator charged in manslaughter of toddler
CBC News – Police charge a Medicine Hat woman, Erin Jackman, 24, with manslaughter in the death of a toddler in her care at her private ‘day home’. Mercedes Pepper, 19 months old, died from critical blunt-force wound to the head in hospital 2 days after investigators believe she suffered trauma at the day home. Day homes are provincially approved facilities run from a private residence. Earlier reports in the Calgary Herald and Medicine Hat News state that the day home was accredited by the province and the operator was looking after her own 2 children, a 5-year-old, and the deceased. An original charge of aggravated assault was upgraded to manslaughter and Jackman also faces a charge of failing to provide the necessities of life because of a time lag between the 911 call and the injury to the child.
Alberta’s 2,800 day homes, usually run by parents seeking extra income, are allowed to care for up to six children, including the owner’s. Jackman’s day home was overseen by Children’s Corner Child Care Centre, an agency that oversees 120 children in 30 other day homes. The president of the Day Care Society of Alberta said daycare centres undergo far more stringent regulation than day homes
July 26/10 Tunisia is first in Africa to ban all corporal punishment
Global Initiative Newsletter – The new law amends the Tunisian Penal Code to remove the legal defence for using corporal punishment in childrearing. Prior to this reform, the ‘correction of a child by persons in authority’ was not punishable unless it led to serious or lasting consequences for the child. The new law explicitly repeals this defence, making it a criminal offence to assault a child, even lightly. Tunisia thus becomes the first African state to prohibit all corporal punishment of children in all settings, including the home.
July 22/10 Raffi calls on faith leaders to end violence to children
Victoria Times Colonist – Internationally known children’s entertainer, Raffi Cavoukian, asks the world’s faith leaders to pledge an end to violence against children, and so far more than 100 from Indonesia, India, North America and Europe – including the Dalai Lama – have agreed. ‘We’re inviting clerics of every faith to sign a proclamation in a show of unity on behalf of the world’s children,’ said Cavoukian.
The list of signatories — at childhonouring.org/plea — ranges from Buddhist monks and Baha’i leaders to ministers, swamis and pastors of United, Anglican, Baptist, Mennonite, Methodist, Anglican and Lutheran churches, as well as members of yoga and meditation groups. An additional 680 people from Canada to South Africa have signed a plea – also on the website – urging their faith leaders to get on board. Former B.C. Lt-Governor Iona Campagnolo, an honorary patron of the group, supports the effort because it starts people thinking about issues around treatment of children.
In his Aug 9 Toronto Star column: Suffer the little children, Dow Marmur, rabbi emeritus at Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple, writes that he’s proud to be a signer of a covenant that aims at creating child-friendly caring communities that include nonviolent policies, such as the prohibition of corporal punishment.
July 19/10 Bangladesh Court orders end to school corporal punishment
BBC News South Asia – The order comes after a 10-year-old boy, allegedly beaten by his teacher, commits suicide; a 7-year-old at a religious school is chained for repeatedly misbehaving; and 8 students are taken to hospital after being caned for not bringing coloured pencils to school. The High Court orders the govt to immediately instruct all primary and secondary schools to stop using corporal punishment. On Aug 19, the govt implemented the court order by issuing a circular to all educational institutions banning corporal punishment and asking the institutions to take preventive measures so that no teacher inflicts such punishment.
July 17/10 Cambridge father charged with murder of 4-month-old daughter
Toronto Star – Sean Michael Summers, 19, is charged with second-degree murder in death of baby Kayleigh Ingram-Summers who was taken to hospital last week with
criticical injuries. Summers is also charged with assault of an adult.
July 15/10 Probation in Calgary manslaughter of teen daughter, Aminat
Calgary Herald – Asset Magomadova, 40, a refugee from Chechnya, was originally charged with second-degree murder for killing her daughter Aminat, 14, in 2007 when she strangled her troubled daughter after a violent struggle. ‘This was a family in crisis with events spiraling out of control,’ her lawyer said, alluding to the friction between mother and Aminat leading up to the deadly confrontation that morning. A Sept 29/09 report quoted a psychologist as saying the teenager had major behavioural disorders.
Justice Sal Lo Vecchio said he wrestled with dynamics of the family in reaching his conclusions and suspended judgment on conditions that included counselling and treatment for Magomadova’s anger, depression, bereavement and grief. One of Magomadova’s sponsors with St. James Anglican Church, said she was relieved ‘at the compassion and mercy that has been shown’ by the court.
July 15/10 Brazil President asks for ban on all corporal punishment
Latin American Herald Tribune – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will soon send a bill to Congress that would ban corporal punishment by parents and teachers, including slaps and spankings. A Cabinet member said the proposed law does not seek to imprison any parent who ‘hits’ a child, but rather to warn them, get them into a family-protection program and provide them with psychological guidance. He added that children who are punished physically come to believe this is normal and are likely to reproduce this behavior in school or in their adult lives.
July 14/10 Reports of abuse close Edmonton daycare centre
Edmonton Journal – Forced feedings, physical discipline and long waits to use the bathroom are among the abuses children suffered at a Stony Plain daycare, say provincial investigators who have ordered it to close. The allegations came to light after an employee at the daycare complained to the ministry. Ministry investigators made 3 visits to the centre and confirmed a number of accusations of inappropriate staff behaviour toward children. The closure sends about 60 sets of parents scrambling to find new accommodations for their children. Complaints related to the daycare’s feeding practices were raised in 2008 and 2009. In both cases, the ministry worked with the centre’s staff and the situation improved. However, the latest allegations were more serious.
July 12/10 Mother fit to stand trial in stabbing teen daughter, Bahar
The Gazette – Johra Kaleki, the mother accused of stabbing her daughter multiple times with a kitchen knife after the 19-year-old girl came home late one night has been found fit to stand trial. She faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon in connection with the June attack in which her daughter suffered serious injuries to her upper body. See our June 15 note for further information.
July 12/10 BC step-father charged with murdering 5-year-old daughter
Vancouver Sun – The stepfather of 5-year-old Clare Shelswell, of Abbotsford, BC, is charged with her 1st degree murder while on vacation with the child and her mother in Washington state. The child was found with her throat slashed. In his statement to police, Peter Wilson, 29, said he killed the girl following a fight with his wife about disciplining Clare and her older sister. Both Wilson and his wife told police he takes medication for a bipolar disorder. Sanjeev Anand, a University of Alberta law professor said an insanity plea, is ‘very difficult to prove’ because the state of mind of the accused must be very severe for it to stand up in court. ‘Just because somebody is bipolar it doesn’t mean they’re insane in the meaning of the criminal law’, he said. The trial will take place in Washington.
July 11/10 Toronto toddler’s death deemed suspicious by police
Toronto Star – The toddler lived in the Lawrence Ave E and Victoria Ave area of Toronto and died July 9. Until an autopsy is performed, police cannot give further details.
July 9/10 Mother gets 7 years for feeding son cocaine & physical abuse
Toronto Star – The Scarorough, ON, mother, Tamara Bloomfield, nearly killed her toddler with a cocaine overdose after giving him the drug over 14 months. She is convicted of aggravated assault, assault endangering life, and assault causing bodily harm for his multiple rib fractures. As a result, the child has permanent and irreversible brain damage requiring him to be dependent on others for the rest of his life. The mother insists she is innocent and is appealing conviction and sentence.
June 28/10 US Congresswoman introduces bill to end school CP
Press Release – Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, NY, holds a press conference to introduce legislation to end corporal punishment in schools. Data collected by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights shows that over 220,000 students in 20 states, in schools across the country are corporally punished, and studies indicate that such punishment has a negative effect on students. Children of color and with disabilities experience corporal punishment at disproportionate rates. The bill aims to alleviate this and promote positive school cultures and climates. Additionally, data shows no evidence that corporal punishment is an effective disciplinary tool or that it results in academic success. Apparently, US federal legislation can protect school children by denying funds to educational programs that allow corporal punishment, as every federal education program imposes conditions on how schools can and cannot use federal money.
June 17/10 Father and brother of Aqsa Parvez sentenced for teen’s murder
Globe and Mail – Muhammad Manzour Parvez, 60, and Waqas Parvez, 29, the Brampton, ON father and brother of Aqsa Parvez, 16, are sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 18 years by Justice Bruce Durno. They had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Aqsa’s death by strangling because, as the father told Aqsa’s mother, his community would say that he was unable to control his daughter. Aqsa had wanted to wear western clothes, work outside the home and visit schoolmates. By pleading guilty, the pair avoided a fist-degree murder trial. Judge Durno cited deterrence, and aggravating factors such as archaic notions of gender, and breach of a child’s trust in the 18-year parole limitation. Gender inequality fueled a ‘twisted, chilling and repugnant mindset’ he said in sentencing them. See our Dec 13/07 item for other information.
June 16/10 Brampton parents charged with killing teen daughter, Tiffany
CTV Toronto- The father and stepmother of 15-year-old Tiffany Gayle, Brampton, ON, face charges of second-degree murder in her death. Tiffany was found dead in her home. An autopsy indicated the cause of death was ‘blunt force trauma’ (beaten to death.) Tiffany had recently arrived from Jamaica to be with her father Fredrick Gayle, 42, and his wife, Elizabeth Gayle, 43. A June 15 Globe and Mail report said police are trying to determine if the girl had been abused before her death. ‘Essentially, physical abuse of a child doesn’t usually start with a [homicide]. There’s usually a pattern that might not be reported to police’, police said. No other information is available at this time.
June 16/10 Parents warned about hazing in Nfld Junior High School
CBC News – St. Peter’s Junior High School in the St. John’s area has sent a warning notice to parents about a recurring hazing ritual, saying that several male Grade 9 students have been paddled by high school students. The incidents occurred in parks and other public places, the notice said. Paddling has been reported at various schools in recent years, usually involving teenagers who use hockey sticks or other objects to strike younger adolescents. Parents have been told to talk to their children about hazing, and ‘take necessary precautions’. The school said it has been in contact with local high schools in an effort to stop the paddling.
June 16/10 Truth and Reconciliation Commission hears abuse stories
The Province – First Nations children were living in residential schools in 1949 under the domination of priests, nuns and staff charged with purging the children of their culture and traditions and replacing them with their own. By the time the last of the 132 schools was shut in 1996, thousands of aboriginal children had suffered horrendous physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
Some 75,000 former students are still alive. More than 5,000 of them, including several hundred from B.C., along with thousands of non-aboriginal Canadians, are expected to attend the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission healing gathering, starting today in Winnipeg. Former residential-school students will have this first opportunity to tell their stories through statements to staff, in “sharing circles” and on video, said TRC executive director Tom McMahon. This information will be used for a national research centre report the TRC is charged with creating.
June 15/10 Mother charged in attempted murder of daughter, Bahar
National Post – Mother, Johra Kaleki, whose home is in Dorval, Quebec, appeared in court on charges of attempted murder and assault in what the Crown is treating as an honour crime. The 19-year-old daughter, Bahar Ebrahimi, described as a ‘fun-loving’ Afgan girl who had returned home in the morning after a night out, was attacked with a knife and suffered serious stab wounds to her head, face, shoulder and arm. At the request of her lawyer the mother has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
June 10/10 Speech by Senator on 2nd reading of Bill to repeal S. 43
Hansard - Senator Hervieux-Payette spoke on second reading of her Bill S-204 to repeal S. 43. Besides touching on scientific, religious, and psychological concepts concerning child discipline, she stressed that violence must be reduced and that we need to recommit to prevention and parenting education. Repeal would not result in criminalization of parents for “trifling” reasons. Not one of the 26 countries that have thus far banned the use of violence in child rearing has experienced this result. Force is ineffective in child rearing, no matter what the level and its consequences are counter-productive. The most recent study in the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that spanking 3-year-old children significantly increases the probability of aggression by age 5. She said Bill S-204 would help parents find alternative child rearing practices. Debate then adjourned. See Senate Bills to Repeal S. 43 for further information.
June 5/10 Report and editorial on NS principal who wrestled student
Globe and Mail – The Globe report on the May 28 incident referred to below describes the principal as manhandling the student, hurling him to the floor and frog-marching him to the office in a full-nelson and notes the principal is black with a military background. Its editorial on it states: ‘It doesn’t matter how defiant the 14-year-old student was. Nobody has the right to physically assault a child. This act does not teach students to refrain from acts of violence and bullying. Instead, it will promote the view that intimidation is acceptable, and that someone who is physically overpowering may use force to get his way.’
June 4/10 Edmonton parents convicted of assaulting 14-year-old with belt
Calgary Sun - Lawrence Zachow, mortgage broker and pastor, age 59, and wife are charged with assault with a weapon on their 14-year-old daughter after she admitted being sexually active. During the confrontation, daughter grabbed a knife and father ‘guided’ her to bedroom with hand on her neck and pulling her hair. In the bedroom, the father held the teen’s legs over her head “to present her buttocks for spanking” and told his wife to spank her with a belt. She was struck at least three times.
In the June 6 Edmonton Sun, columnist Mindelle Jacobs, writes “Just in case being struck by her parents three times with a belt on the buttocks wasn’t humiliating enough, her father called her a “slut” and a “whore.” “A real-life teachable moment to have an honest conversation about sexuality was lost”, she writes. Judge Stevens-Guille dismissed the assault with weapon charge and found parents guilty of lesser charge of assault, saying the injuries were not that serious and that parents are allowed by law to use reasonable force for corrective measures, but not to use objects. He asked for pre-sentence report to learn about the parents and ‘their philosophies’.
Comment: The Supreme Court of Canada made it quite clear in its 2004 decision on the constitutionality of S. 43 that ‘corporal punishment of teenagers creates a serious risk of psychological harm’ and is therefore unreasonable and cannot be justified under S. 43. The judge apparently does not acknowledge that corporal punishment of teenagers is no longer legal, does not follow other decisions in which striking with a belt is held to be assault with a weapon, and seems to consider only physical injuries of significance – but not the serious risk of psychological harm noted by the Supreme Court.
May 30/10 Women claim for physical/emotional abuse at Nfld orphanage
Toronto Star – More than 30 women began a court action 13 years ago against the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy and the province of Newfoundland for years of physical abuse when they were children in the Belvedere Orphanage in the 1940s and 50s. One of the plaintiffs says she was beaten with belts and fists, locked in a dark space without food, and placed in a bathtub of scalding water. She and other survivors have battled alcoholism and depression as a result. Since launching the suit, little progress has been made because nuns have died, memories have faded and the trauma caused by medical assessments has proved too damaging for the women.
May 28/10 Video of student-principal scuffle posted on CBC site
CBC News - Security video of a March confrontation between a principal and a student at a Nova Scotia high school was posted on YouTube today. The video appears to show Ken Fells, who at the time was principal of Graham Creighton Junior High, wrestling with 14-year-old Josh Boutilier. Fells was removed as principal at the Cherry Brook school last week, but is still an employee of the Halifax Regional School Board. The student, who now attends a new school, received a concussion, cuts and bruises during the altercation, according to his family. RCMP investigated the incident and no charges were laid. Click for video: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/05/28/ns-fells-altercation-video.html
May 28/10 Repeal 43 C’ttee submission to UNC re Canada’s report on S. 43
In Nov/09, the Government of Canada reported to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on its implementation of the UN Convention. With regard to Article 19 of the Convention and S. 43, the govt simply stated that the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of S. 43 and found it ‘consistent with Canada’s obligations under the Convention’. As we believe S. 43 is not consistent with Article 19, we made a submission to the UNC on this issue. The UNC is unlikely to respond to Canada’s report until spring 2011 and submissions by other NGOs will no doubt be made this year.
May 28/10 Residential schools commission told about child-on-child assaults
Globe and Mail – The Independent Assessment Process set up as part of an out-of-court settlement between churches, schools and Ottawa is told that as many as 20% of physical and sexual abuse claims in Indian residential schools may involve child-on-child assaults. This has rarely been discussed before. According to the ED of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, these assaults can be traced back to abuse by priests, nuns and workers at the schools.
May 18/10 Raffi calls for positive discipline – not threats and physical punishment
Globe and Mail – In a column re assaults on children in the Roman Catholic Church, children’s songster, author and founder of the Centre for Child Honouring, Raffi Cavoukian, calls on religious leaders to inspire their followers to accord children the dignity and respect enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Various forms of violence – threats, smacks and beatings – have no place in an enlightened world, he writes. These not only violate a child’s rights but also are counterproductive and harmful. Religious leaders can issue a clear call to replace physical punishment and coercion with positive discipline and respect.
May 15/10 Spanking may lower child’s IQ: Murray Straus study
Regina Leader Post – Children who are spared the rod may grow up to have higher IQs than those who are spanked, suggests a study by one of North America’s foremost child psychology experts. Researcher Murray Straus found the younger children who were spanked scored an average of five points lower on their IQs, compared to children in their age group whose parents did not believe in corporal punishment. Corporal punishment was defined in the study as hitting a child, usually on the buttocks, at least three times a week. The one who usually did the spanking was the mother. David Day, an associate psychology professor at Ryerson University, Toronto, said parents should be using positive-reinforcement techniques instead of striking their children. See Research chapter for study presented at a conference in San Diego Oct/09.
May 14/10 Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate steps down after one term
The Star Phoenix – Children’s Advocate, Marvin Bernstein, has indicated to the Saskatchewan Justice Minister that he does not wish to be considered for reappointment when 5-year term expires in August. The second person to hold the position of Children’s Advocate in Saskatchewan, Bernstein is perhaps best known for a hard-hitting report on problems with the foster care system in Saskatoon. “He’s left a mark on our province. He’s been a strong advocate for children and their rights. He’s raised some significant issues,” the minister said. Bernstein, who has been hired by UNICEF Canada, will return to his home province of Ontario.
May/10 Repeal 43 Committee info folder on S. 43 revised and updated
The Repeal 43 Committee has revised and updated its information folder giving basic information on our committee, Section 43, and national and international developments in the campaign to end legal support for corporal punishment. Information is available on our website as well as on others, but print material is still valuable for meetings, workshops, organizations, and interested individuals who may not have easy access to a computer.Click for folder. Copies can be printed on legal-size, light blue paper and machine-folded for a few dollars.
May/10 Archdiocese of Halifax bans corporal punishment by staff
In a Feb15/10 letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Halifax and Diocese of Yarmouth, Anthony Mancini, Archbishop of Halifax, writes that the Churches of Halifax and Yarmouth have been living through difficult times as the result of allegations of sexual abuse and events in the Diocese of Antigonish. Because of these difficulties, there has been a call for a more transparent, open and accountable church. The outcome of this call is a 28-page protocol Responsible Ministry and Safe Environment Protocol. It includes the following ban on corporal punishment: “Staff and volunteers shall nor engage in the corporal punishment of children, youth or vulnerable adults in their care. Discipline problems will be handled in coordination with the immediate supervisor and the parents/care providers.”
May/10 Liechtenstein prohibits corporal punishment in the home
Global Initiative Newsletter – Liechtenstein passed legislation to completely prohibit corporal punishment of children, including by parents in the home. An unofficial translation of Article 3(1) of the Children and Youth Act 2008 states: “Children and young people have the rights outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to … education/upbringing without violence. Corporal punishment, psychological harm and other degrading treatment are not accepted….” The Act came into force in 2009.
May 4/10 Council of Europe: full smacking ban would lead to respectful society
Telegraph.co.uk – Commenting on Britain’s ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence in the Children’s Act 2004,the deputy head of the Council of Europe, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, writes in a letter to The Daily Telegraph: “I firmly believe that the existence of a legal defence for parents who ‘reasonably chastise’ their children, effectively halts the evolution towards a society which is more respectful of both children’s rights and parents’ potential to improve their parental skills.” Mild smacking of children remains permitted in UK homes under a “reasonable chastisement” defence to the crime of common assault. The Council of Europe continues to press Britain to introduce a total ban.
May 1/10 Class action against Bishop’s College School for years of abuse
Montreal Gazette – BCS in Montreal is one of Canada’s ‘elite’ private schools where some students went on to distinguished careers; others to a downward path to alcoholism, drug abuse, psychological disorder, failed relationships and career instability. More than 36 former students have launched a class action demanding $15 million in compensation, full disclosure and apology. They give accounts of rampant corporal punishment, routine floggings on bared backsides with canes, steel-edged rulers and hockey sticks and sexual abuse at the hands of an ordained faculty member. This echoes tales of abuse in Catholic parishes, Indian Residential Schools, and other elite schools, including Montreal’s Selwyn House and Toronto’s Upper Canada College. At BCS, older boys were allowed to beat younger boys in a ‘fagging’ system modeled on British public schools. There was pressure not to complain or speak of this abuse.
Ap 29/10 Sask Children’s Advocate’s 2009 Annual Report reflects busy year
Canadian Press – Children’s Advocate, Marvin Bernstein’s 2009 Annual Report says 2009 was the busiest to date for his office with a 25% increase in requests over last year. There were 4800 children in care: nearly 80% Aboriginal. Bernstein said there were some positive developments after his office released a scathing report on violence and abuse in Saskatoon foster homes. A social worker, for example, described overcrowded conditions in one foster home as a ‘puppy mill’. In another, the foster father of brothers age 10 and 13 was charged with assault. The Sask govt responded with new money for foster homes and a restructuring of the Ministry of Social Services. A review of the child welfare system was also launched.
Ap 28/10 Senator moves 2nd reading of her Bill S-204 to repeal S. 43
Hansard – Senator Hervieux-Payette said she wanted to update her research before speaking on Bill S-204, and the debate adjourned.
Ap 27/10 Guardians to stand trial for Katelynn Sampson murder
Toronto Star – Donna Irving and Warren Johnson have been ordered to stand trial on first-degree murder charges following a 49 day preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence on which a jury could find accused guilty. Katelynn’s death shocked Toronto during the summer of 2008. Detectives who found her body said her injuries were the worst they’d seen. See our Aug 6/08 item on the circumstances of this 7-year-old child’s death.
Ap 23/10 Alice Miller dies: She changed world views on child-rearing
Alice Miller dies in France at age 87. Born in Poland, she studied philosophy and literature and trained as a psychotherapist. After 20 years of practicing psychoanalysis, she decided this was not the best way to help people. She came to believe it would be more helpful to write about the parent-child relationship and the lifelong effects of corporal punishment and sexual abuse. This was the theme of books such as For Your Own Good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence and The Body Never Lies. Her books were translated into 30 languages. An Ap 28 obituary in the Globe and Mail quotes British psychologist Oliver James as saying ‘Clinically, she is almost as influential as R.D. Laing’ and the Observer of London wrote that she changed the way people thought about children. Click for Alice Miller Manifesto: Every Smack is a Humiliation.
Ap 17/10 Roots of Empathy: school-based program helps reduce bullying
Time.com – Teaching children to understand their own behavior and feelings provides the basic tools for understanding the behavior and feelings of others, says Mary Gordon, founder of Roots of Empathy, a school-based program designed to foster compassion. Gordon’s Roots of Empathy program is currently being used in about 3,000 kindergartens, elementary and middle schools in Canada and 40 schools in Seattle. In the program, children get to see a visiting parent and infant interact in the classroom about once a month, and watch the foundations of empathy being built. To date, 9 separate studies show that Roots of Empathy helps reduce bullying at schools.
Ap 15/10 Community newspaper editorial: Save a child, spare the rod
Caledon Enterprise, Bolton, ON – In an editorial prompted by the Tulane study on the effects of corporal punishment on young children, this community newspaper editorial says it is surprising that hitting children is not illegal in Canada if used by a parent or care-giver for disciplinary reasons – and that corporal punishment was, in fact, reinforced by a Supreme Court decision in 2004. A landmark study now indicates spanking children “turned out to be the strongest risk factor” in raising children who are aggressive, destructive and disobedient. Birthing a child, says the editorial, does not give parents the right to indulge in corporal punishment. In 24 more enlightened countries around the world, it is prohibited and it’s time for Canada to join their ranks.
Ap 12/10 Spanking leads to aggressive behaviour in children: Tulane Study
Ottawa Citizen – A study by Catherine A. Taylor and others at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, finds that children who were spanked often before age 3 were twice as likely as those who weren’t spanked to develop aggressive behaviours such as getting into fights, destroying things or being mean to others. “Children need guidance and discipline,” said Taylor. “Parents should focus on positive, non-violent forms of discipline and avoid the use of spanking.” See Research chapter for more information.
Ap 12/10 Global poll: parents say physical punishment is not best discipline
CNN – A global poll of 16 countries by Reader’s Digest asked parents: What’s the most effective way to discipline kids under age 18? Send them to their rooms, Talk to them, Take away a privilege, Use physical punishment. A good talking-to was voted the best tactic for teaching a lesson, by a wide margin. Taking away a privilege placed second. Two other traditional forms of discipline – sending kids to their rooms and spanking – were the least favored choices in all countries. The highest rate of approval for corporal punishment was in Russia (13% approval) and the UK (12% approval). See the full set of results here.
Ap 1/10 Spanking leads to more child aggression/ anxiety, regardless of country
Physorg.com – Researchers at the University of Michigan and 5 other universities looked at practices and perceptions of discipline in six countries. They examined the associations of mothers’ discipline techniques with children’s aggressive and anxious behaviors in China, India, Italy, Kenya, Thailand and the Philippines and found that spanking leads to more childhood aggression and anxiety, regardless of the country. “It may be that the long-term investments that we make in children, like spending time with them, showing that we love them and listening to them, have a more powerful positive effect on behavior than any form of discipline,” said Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, UM associate professor of social work. See Research chapter for more information.
Mar 30/10 UK govt extends corporal punishment ban to part-time schools
BBC News – Under current UK rules, smacking is already banned in state, private schools and nurseries but the ban has not covered educational settings where lessons are taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week. As a result, part-time educational settings, including religious lessons taught in madrassas, have been able to use corporal punishment. But now it will be banned in all forms of tuition, care and supervision outside the family. This sends a straightforward message that corporal punishment is entirely unacceptable in any form of care, education or leisure. However, the ban does not include nannies, au pairs or babysitters, as they are considered part of the family or household.
Mar 17/10 Ex-coach admits paddling students for sexual gratification
The Telegraph – Nashua, New Hampshire. A former high school coach pleads guilty to paddling 3 schoolboys for sexual gratification and is sentenced to 3 years in jail. The 32-year-old man admitted to abusing his position as an authority figure, spanking 3 teens with a belt, paddling or using a bare hand as “punishment” for misbehavior or bad grades. He forced another boy to sit on his lap, slapped the boy’s face, and admitted to police that he had been playing out scenes from his pornographic movies and that he was receiving mental health help.
Mar 10/10 Pope’s brother confesses to slapping choir boys for ‘poor performances’
Toronto Star – The Pope’s older brother, Rev. Georg Ratzinger, 86, tells a German newspaper that he administered corporal punishment himself and repeatedly slapped pupils in the face as punishment for poor performances after he took over a renowned German boy’s choir in the 1960s and led until 1994. He said he knew about allegations of physical abuse at an elementary school linked to the choir but did nothing about it and was also told by some boys about severe beatings at 2 feeder schools for the choir. Rev. Ratzinger told the paper that he now condemns such actions, always had a bad conscience about them, and asks pardon for them. The paper also quoted the German justice minister as saying that the Vatican had a role in the “wall of silence” that surrounded the sexual abuse of children.
Mar 10/10 New section 43 decisions summarized in Law chapter
Five decisions from Quebec courts and 4 from other provinces involve parents and teachers. Alleged assaults include hits to the face, striking with a belt, grabbing by teachers and kicking, slapping, punching by adoptive parents (R. c. S. S, et G. R. 2008) who had glowing references for the adoption of 3 boys. The father insisted in disciplining them with the same punishments he had received as a child. Although the mother disagreed with his methods, the question of her guilt for tolerating father’s assaults was considered.
Mar 5/10 Latest NZ police report on ‘smacking’ ban finds no problems
Barnardos New Zealand – In Dec/09, the New Zealand PM invited police to continue monitoring the results of the 2007 ban on corporal punishment for a further 3 yrs. The police report for the latest period (June to Dec/09) shows an increase in the number of child assault events attended and finds this consistent with reduced tolerance and increased reporting of assaults on children. There were 367 events attended and 2 prosecuted but both were resolved by diversion. One was a ‘smacking’ in which a red welt was still visible after 3 days and the other was for a ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ in which parent admitted stress and frustration See International Developments, New Zealand for report and other information.
Mar 5/10 Murder conviction upheld in death of 5-year-old Phoenix Sinclair
Toronto Star –Saying the crime deserved “society’s condemnation”, the Manitoba Court of Appeal unanimously upholds the first-degree murder conviction of Kematch and McKay in the horrendous treatment and death of 5-year-old Phoenix. See Nov 14/08 news item.
Mar 4&5 /10 Another homicide of toddler in Alberta foster home
Globe and Mail – A 21-month-old girl in foster care for 2 months in Morinville, north of Edmonton, dies of severe brain damage. The death is now confirmed as homicide as it seems the child may have been shaken to death. This is the latest death while in Alberta foster care. An Edmonton foster mother was sentenced to 3 years in jail for the death of a toddler in 2008 (see Dec 1/08 and Jan 30/07 news items). A 4-year-old died from head injuries in 2009 while in the foster care of her aunt who has now been charged. Other foster deaths are noted in this chapter. The Opposition again calls for better recruitment, screening and supervision of foster parents.
Mar 3/10 Former Huronia residents claim abuse and seek compensation
Toronto Star – Former residents of the Huronia Regional Centre run by the Ontario govt between 1876 and 2009 are haunted by what many call dark memories and ask that their claim for damages against the province be certified as a class-action suit. The residence was home to more than 3,000 developmentally disabled children and adults. One former resident remembers being “whacked” with a thick stick if his hands were dirty. Another recalls being hit with a fly swatter and dunked in ice water for not eating. Reports about conditions at the centre began emerging in the 1970s but apparently little was done.
Mar 3/10 Immigration Minister’s study guide for immigrants criticized
Globe and Mail – An updated 63-page study guide for citizenship applicants was released in Nov/09 and will start being used this month to educate immigrants about Canada. It contains no reference to the equality rights of gay and lesbian Canadians and has been much criticized for this important omission.
Comment: Another important omission is the lack of any reference to children’s rights, particularly their right to freedom from parental assaults for “correction” unless the force used is “minor, transitory and trifling”. This was a basic limit placed on corporal punishment by the Supreme Court’s 2004 reinterpretation of s. 43 and until the section is repealed, at least gives children some protection. Since most immigrants are from countries with no such limit, this change in Canadian law should have been brought to their attention. The guide is called Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship but is more focused on history and the military than on rights.
Feb 18/10 “Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week” in Ontario
Toronto Sun – Elizabeth Witmer, Progressive Conservative Education Critic introduces a resolution calling on the Ontario government to officially recognize the 3rd week of each November as “Bullying Awareness & Prevention Week”. Witmer said one in three students experience bullying in school and almost one in three have bullied someone else. “It is my belief that by raising awareness of bullying and embarking on efforts to prevent it, students will understand there is support for those who are bullied, that there are consequences for bullying and that bullying is never acceptable.” Witmer’s resolution passed with all-party support.
Feb 10/10 Maryland, US bill aims to restrict corporal punishment
nospank.net – Two Democratic senators introduce a bill in the Maryland Senate to limit corporal punishment of children by making hitting with objects, fist, face slapping, kicking and similar acts of violence clearly illegal. Reasons for the bill as set out in its preamble include national surveys and research showing that 35% of infants are hit in the name of reasonable discipline, that the majority of child abuse and child abuse-related fatal incidents start as acts of corporal punishment, and that striking disabled children with electrical cords and causing injury by the fist have recently been deemed reasonable in some Maryland court decisions.
Maryland’s leading child-abuse prevention organization, “The Family Tree” endorses the Bill and says it will help protect Maryland’s children from maltreatment by providing clear guidance about how a parent may discipline a child. In 2007, more than 1,500 US children died as a result of maltreatment and the annual cost of child abuse was over $100 billion, including more than $33 billion for direct costs like courts, foster care, law enforcement and health care, and $70 billion in long-term economic effects. (The 2003 University Western Ontario study noted on our Research chapter estimated the annual Canadian costs at close to $16 billion.)
Feb 5/10 Editorial – It’s not ok to beat your kids – we should have evolved beyond this
The Daily Gleaner, New Brunswick – Summary of editorial re the Feb 3 assault noted above: Justice Paulette Garnett sent a powerful message to a Fredericton father in an appeal ruling this week – that his decision to beat his child won’t be tolerated. Garnett overturned a lower court sentence of probation for the 46-year-old man who spanked his son hard enough to cause bruises and pain lasting a couple of days. She ruled, instead, that a 45-day jail term was in order. The judge sent the right message, but she made it clear the message was meant for this one offender. We applaud Garnett’s decision to impose a stiff sentence in this case, but we lament the fact that a stronger message wasn’t sent to parents and caregivers in general about the fine line between corporal punishment and child abuse.
A stronger, wider message needs to be sent to the public in general, but it’s probably not this one judge’s place to send it. The Criminal Code of Canada is crafted by Parliament and, as such, the ultimate responsibility for sending such messages lies with our MPs. We recognize there’s a valid debate in society about the value of corporal punishment. However, tougher sanctions on those who cross the legal line when it comes to using physical force to correct a child’s behaviour are in order.
So why should such a strong message be sent? The reason is clear: some people just aren’t getting it. As evidence, we offer up the following reader comment that was left on the Canadaeast website in response to our coverage of the Crown’s decision to appeal the spanking sentence: “It seems to me that the Crown needs a good spanking. The father left bruises on the bum, not the face or neck. And I say, spank away parents.” This sort of comment would have been understandable decades ago, but in the 21st century, we’ve evolved beyond this sort of thinking in our community – or, at least, we should have.
Feb 3/10 New Brunwick father jailed for injuring 6-year-old son by spanking
The Daily Gleaner.com – A lower court’s decision to put a Fredericton father on probation for spanking his son in May/08 hard enough to bruise and injure the boy is appealed and overturned. Justice Paulette Garnett instead sentenced him to 45 days in jail. The 46-year-old man had pled guilty to a summary count of assault causing bodily harm to the boy but said he still planned to use corporal punishment in raising his children. The man had “beat his son so hard that he left bruises which were clearly visible two days later”. He also and had a previous conviction for assault. In the appeal, the court was urged to consider general deterrence as the most important factor in the case.
Feb 2/10 Preliminary hearing for 3 in Rideau Canal death of teen daughters
CTV.ca Montreal – Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their son Hamed Shafia are accused of killing the couple’s three teenaged daughters – Zainab, Sahari and Geeti, age 13 to 19 – and Shafia’s 50-year-old first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad in June/09. Their bodies were found in a car submerged in a lock on the Rideau Canal. A National Post report says an unnamed person claiming to be a family relative wrote the Montreal Gazette, alleging that Shafia was ‘disgraced’ by his daughters’ behaviour in Canada and that he wanted his first wife to return to Afghanistan. Police are investigating claims the deaths were so-called honour killings but no further information is yet available.
Jan 26/10 St. Thomas, Ontario father charged in death of baby
London Free Press – Shawn Gallant, 23, is charged with manslaughter in the death of his 2-month-old son, Lucas Rozell Gallant, who was found unconscious in his St. Thomas, Ont home in May/08. “Because it’s an infant, there was a lot of medical evidence required and it took a long time for the pathologist to come to some conclusions and give us their opinions,” said police.
Jan 19/10 PEI man sentenced to 2 years for aggravated assault on infant
CBC News – David Evans Kelly is sentenced to 2 yrs in jail after pleading guilty to aggravated assault on a 10-week-old baby boy left in his care. The baby wouldn’t stop crying and 25-year-old Kelly shook him 3 times. When the mother returned and took baby to hospital his injuries included bruising and bleeding from the brain. Crown attorney told the court that Kelly “lacked the most fundamental of parenting skills” and that the little boy, now a year old, has a bleak future, needs constant medical attention and is fed through a tube. Doctors do not expect the boy’s condition to improve.
Jan 18/10 Singer Raffi opens “Centre for Child Honouring” in B.C.
Winnipeg Free Press – Raffi Cavoukian is one of Canada’s most popular children’s singers and also an author and recipient of the Order of Canada and the UN’s Earth Achievement Award. But the 60-year-old singer says his legacy will be “The Centre for Child Honouring”, which he officially opened this weekend on British Columbia’s idyllic Saltspring Island. The facility is described as a “training hub” where children’s developmental needs will be discussed. Everyone from parents to world leaders will be invited to attend and teach. The first guest speaker at the Centre was University of Manitoba professor and clinical psychologist Joan Durrant who noted that discipline does not mean punishment and stressed that positive discipline does not mean permissive parenting. Former B.C. lieutenant governor Iona Campagnolo is patron of the centre.
Comment: One of the basic principles of the Centre as stated on its website is thatnonviolence is central to emotional maturity, to family relations, to community values, and to the character of societies that aspire to live in peace. Regarding children, the website notes that this means no corporal punishment, no humiliation, and no coercion.
Jan 16/10 James Dobson to leave Focus On The Family
New York Times – James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and influential voice for Christian conservatives, is about to depart from the organization he created and is starting a radio program that will give him greater leeway to hold forth on politics. Dr. Dobson, a psychologist, founded Focus on the Family 33 years ago to offer advice on parenting, but he has increasingly used his substantial following among evangelicals to influence policy debates and elections. Focus occupies sprawling headquarters in Colorado Springs. It had 1,400 employees at its height in 2002, but has 860 now. Its budget was cut from $160 million in 2008 to $139 million in 2009. The contraction is due not only to the recession but to Focus’s struggle to retain a younger generation of evangelicals who identify it with their parents. Click here and here for examples of psychologist Dobson’s advice on disciplining young children.
Jan 15/10 Senator Hervieux-Payette will reintroduce amended Bill S-209
When Parliament resumes in March, Senator Hervieux-Payette confirms she will reintroduce Bill S-209. The bill was before the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for study when Prime Minister Harper prorogued Parliament in December. The result is that all Private Members’ Bills in the Senate die. (Those in the House of Commons do not.)
Jan 15/10 Abuse alleged at Nova Scotia schools for deaf by former students
ChronicleHerald.ca – A class-action against the Nova Scotia govt for damages is brought by former students at schools for the deaf in Halifax and Amherst, Nova Scotia. It alleges physical, sexual and psychological abuse in the 1950s and 1960s by staff and older students. The lawsuit, launched in Sept/09, is one of several class-action lawsuits filed against provincial governments in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland alleging rampant abuse of deaf students at residential schools. Walter Wile, who filed the suit, alleges he was hit about 40 times during his years at both schools and that when he was 10, a staff member struck him repeatedly on both the hands and upper arms with a wooden stick. Wile claims he did not receive a proper education and has been emotionally scarred and has lived with depression for years.
Jan 14/10 Manitoba apologizes for abuse at militaristic group home
Globe and Mail – The province of Manitoba apologizes to dozens of boys who were raised in a “militaristic” provincial group home in Cathedral Valley, Grandview, Man, 30 years ago. The apology coincided with the release of an independent report that concluded residents “were emotionally harmed by [a] strict militaristic environment that used corporal punishment as a means to instill fear and control over students”. The lead plaintiff was eight years old when RCMP sent him to the home run by a retired military man and his wife.
Jan 13/10 Oshawa man charged with 2nd degree murder of 2-year-old
Toronto Star – The man charged is 26-year-old Michael Harvey Monckton and the deceased child is Keagan Davis. The child’s body was found in a basement apartment in Oshawa, where Monckton was present. Police said Monckton was “associated with the deceased”. A ban on publishing the names of the child and the man charged with his murder was lifted but a ban on publication of evidence is still in place. However, the Globe and Mail reported on Jan 9 that police say the child’s death resulted from bodily trauma and neighbours indicated the accused might have been the mother’s boyfriend.
Jan 11/10 Canadian parents find low level of community support
Toronto Star – A survey of 2,500 Canadian parents by Invest in Kids finds that only 26-27% of parents felt they had a high level of support from their communities. This contrasts with the support given to Swedish parents as outlined in the Never Violencereport noted below.
Jan 10/10 Father jailed for attempted murder of teen daughter, Ashna
Thaindian News – Indo-Canadian father is jailed 52 months for attempted murder of his 14-year-old daughter, Ashna Khanna, two years ago at Alliston, near Toronto. Forty-six-year old Kamal Khanna was sentenced after the court heard how he punched and stabbed his daughter while she slept March 24, 2008, then chased her, stabbing her in the chest, head, face and abdomen. The mother of the victim told the court she was at work when her 10-year-old daughter called to say, “Daddy is killing Ashna!” Khanna, who works in a bank, told police he attacked his daughter because she was ‘disrespectful’. The family moved to Canada from India in 1982. See our Mar 5-6/08 item for other information.
Jan 6/10 Father and brother of Aqsa Parvez to be tried in 2011 for murder
Toronto Star – 16-year-old Aqsa was killed in Dec/07 and her father and brother charged with her first-degree murder. (See our Dec 13/07 item.) Lengthy preliminary hearings were held in 2008. All details revealed in them remain under a publication ban.
Jan 6/10 US study says spanking makes children happy but CPS disagrees
National Post – Young children spanked by their parents may perform better at school later on and grow up to be happier, according to a controversial new study that is drawing scorn from critics. Marjorie Gunnoe, psychology professor at Michigan’s Calvin College, said her research “is not a green light for parents to spank their children, but rather a red light for those groups who want corporal punishment banned.”
Prof. Gunnoe admits her research has been rejected by two professional journals, including the Journal of Family Psychology and that it contradicts other studies that associate spanking with negative effects. Dr. Diane Sacks, former president of the Canadian Paediatric Society, says research has proven that spanking, whether short or long-term, leads to “bad, physical behaviour.” Grant Wilson, president of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council, suggests that the study’s results may have been influenced by Calvin College’s Christian affiliation since some religious groups oppose abolition of corporal punishment on Christian principles. (Several letters to editors re this report and an article by NP columnist B. Kay have been published. See Articles/Letters 1990 -2010.)
Comment: Prof Gunnoe’s study was presented orally at a conference in Denver, Colorado in April/09 but as yet has not been published in any academic journal. Her conclusions contradict most research on the effects of spanking and cannot be evaluated unless and until her study is published and analyzed by experts in research methodology. Nonetheless, it has been given wide publicity in US, British and Canadian media that support parental spanking. Releasing findings of an unpublished study through the media rather than in peer-reviewed journals is unusual and has the effect of influencing public and political opinion on the basis of research that can’t be adequately critiqued.
From what we can gather from available information, the study is based on a sample of only 180 youth, age 12 – 17 years. They were selected from a much larger national project that interviews parents on how membership in various US subcultures affects their lives. The parents gave permission for the youth to be interviewed but we have no information on the criteria for the youth selection and the sample is obviously small. The youth were ethnically diverse and 73% of them identified themselves with a formal religion. They were interviewed by email or letter and divided into spanked and not-spanked groups based on their own recollections.
They were then asked to evaluate themselves on positive or negative adjustment. As indicators of positive adjustment, they were asked how they ranked themselves on the basis of academic achievement, volunteer work, and optimism about the future. As indicators of adjustment difficulties, they were asked about lying, stealing, alcohol or drug use, whether they had physically attacked anyone, “had sex”, or experienced depression.
Depending on methodology and bias, there will always be some research that differs from the mainstream. Research is therefore of limited value in deciding whether s. 43 should be repealed. Full legal protection from “corrective” assaults on wives, prisoners, and apprentices was not based on research that such assaults are harmful. It was based on the belief that it is morally wrong to hit any person for “correction” because this is a violation of the basic human right to dignity and full and equal protection of the law against assault. The same rationale applies to granting children the full protection of the law – and is even stronger – given that children are defenceless and particularly vulnerable.
Never Violence report on Sweden’s corporal punishment ban after 30 years
A report by the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and Sweden’s Save the Children Never Violence – Thirty Years on from Sweden’s Abolition of Corporal Punishment, 2009, explains that the ban prohibits cp or any other humiliating treatment but does not prevent parents from restraining children to prevent harm to themselves or others. It briefly outlines the background of the ban and corrects claims made by opponents. It emphasizes that the ban was followed by an unprecedented publicity campaign, that the Swedish welfare system has a range of universal supports for parents such as generous parental leave, reduced workdays when children are young, housing allowances, sickness benefits for stay–at-home parents, available daycare, and antenatal and children’s health clinics. It reports that:
- in the 1960s, over 50% of children had been ‘smacked’ once or several times per year
- by 2000, only around 10% were smacked
- about 9% of parents still believe in using cp
- there has been a sharp decline in punishment by punching and using implements
- 2 years after the ban, 90% of Swedish families knew of the ban
- all reports are investigated and preventive and supportive measures provided
- as of 1999, there has been a 190% increase in reports of suspected assaults on children
Contrary to claims made by opponents in Sweden and elsewhere:
- the percentage of reported assaults on children that are prosecuted has not increased
- increased reports of suspected assaults reflect public awareness- not more assaults
- youth crimes of theft and property damage have decreased, not increased
- violent crime rates have stayed relatively constant, not increased
- there is no indication of increased criminality among young people. For Report Click