Should Parents have the right to spank?

Confession time: I have spanked my kids and it really did hurt me more than it hurt them.

Spanking is an outlet for a situation gone bad. A build up in parenting pressure that explodes on your child’s behind.

A point of clarification: I have never “consciously” spanked my kids. That is, I’ve never plotted it as a reasonable punishment for a transgression. Instead a spank is a blind, fury-filled over reaction. It’s a blood boiling attempt to control my kids and show them who’s boss.

Is it wrong? I’m not sure, but I know it’s not right. I’d love the eternal patience of a saint to soberly navigate the parenting waters, but sometimes I fail.

For now, parents are protected by the Canadian Criminal Code when it comes to spanking.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2004 that parents have the right to spank their children. But the country’s top court also set out “reasonable limits.”

Those limits include:

Spanking could be used against children between the ages of two and 12 years old.
Children could not be disciplined with an object.
Hits to the head would be unacceptable.

Researchers, however, want things changed.

Children who have experienced physical punishment tend to be more aggressive toward parents, siblings, peers and, later, spouses, and are more likely to develop antisocial behaviour, said Joan Durrant, of the department of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba and Ron Ensom of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

How can you not agree?

If you’re a remotely sensible parent, the wave of guilt flows over you the second there is contact. “It hurts me more than it hurts you”, is not an empty sentence. I feel like a failure for having lost control enough to resort to spanking.

There are programs to help guide parental perception and attitude to corporal punishment. Toronto Public Health has “Spanking hurts more than you think” and the Public Health Agency of Canada sponsors “Never spank!” These programs should be supported, encouraged and broadened.

I’m sure there will be a day when it will no longer be “acceptable” to hit a child between the ages of 2-12. These attitudes are hold overs from an era exempt of helmets, child labour laws, car seats and common sense.

Already there are more than 2 dozens countries in the world that have banned spanking, Sweden being the first in 1979. Venezuela, Uruguay, Portugal, Spain, and Costa Rica also don’t permit spanking. While Sweden has a lower rate of child deaths due to abuse than 20 out of 27 developed countries, other studies have suggested that the spanking ban has made little change in problematic forms of physical punishment.

What’s your take? Should parents have a ‘right’ to spank their kids?

Image via Todd Simpson

(Visited 325 times, 1 visits today)




  1. Leslie February 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I used to think “I was spanked and it never hurt me and I don’t even remember” but then I did it like you say out of frustration and realized:
    1) it only made me feel terrible
    2) it doesn’t work as well other discipline methods
    3) my son was starting to use physicality to display discontent rather than words

    So now I make concerted effort to deal with behaviour before I get to the breaking point. And if I do feel myself boiling I take a deep breath and walk away if I have to

  2. dianne jenkins June 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    i think we as parent should have the rightsd to discipline our children as we see fit and the government should stay out of our personel business.

    their is no official documentation showing that spankings causes our children to become more aggressive or violent.

    i also believe that the supreme court of canada as done a good job at upholding the law in 2004 and should be kept this way.

    if more kids were spanked by their parents this country would be free of crime and violence and gang related incident and their would be less crimes at schools like kids bringing guns and other weapons.

    as well i think that all researchers and child avocate groups have been spanked in their lifetime and i am sure that it didnt make them more agressive or violent as the claim or the wouldn,t be holding the jobs thay have today.

    so i think they should back off

  3. dianne jenkins June 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    so yes i think all parents should have the rights to spanks

  4. Mya Dyllen June 25, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Dianne – all the evidence available actually does show your statment,

    “their is no official documentation showing that spankings causes our children to become more aggressive or violent.”

    to be wrong.

    Conversely, I could ask you to please show me the evidence of what you are claiming to be true. As you are the one wishing to suggest that hitting someone is a good thing, why don’t you see that the pressure is actually on you to prove that.

    It is not for others to prove that hitting is bad. We all accept it is not legal or moral to hit other adults, so why do you argue that hitting a small child is somehow a good thing?

    Again, you have absolutely no scientific evidence for what you are claiming.

  5. Mya Dyllen June 25, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Also, the argument that it was none of the government’s business was also used to stop legislation meant to protect women from abuses at the hands of their male relatives, and legislation meant to free slaves.

    What these all have in common is the presumption that some people – women, blacks, children- are the property of others.

    We all find this morally abhorrent in cases of women and racial minorities. It’s far past time to recognize the same is true in the case of children.

  6. Pingback: Quick Inside Slant: Week 2 : So Much Sports

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *