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October 7, 2003
Majority favour repeal of "spanking law"
A national survey of over 2000 Canadians shows a significant majority in favour
of repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. This section, commonly
referred to as the "spanking law," allows physical punishment of children by
teachers and parents.

Sixty nine per cent of respondents believe teachers should not be allowed to
physically punish children. Fifty one per cent believe parents should not be
allowed to use physical punishment as a disciplinary measure; this opinion
increases to 60% if guidelines are in place to prevent prosecution for "mild

Support for ending Section 43 is higher among women and those in the 18 to 34
age group. The survey was sponsored by Toronto Public Health and conducted by
Decima Research.

"The law came into effect in 1892 and reflects 19th Century attitudes towards
children," said Corinne Robertshaw, national coordinator of Repeal 43
Committee. "This survey demonstrates that public attitudes toward corporal
punishment of children are changing." The law is currently being challenged
before the Supreme Court of Canada by advocates for children.

Section 43 allows physical punishment of children and provides a defense to a
charge of assault if the courts consider the punishment reasonable.

"We need to encourage positive methods of guiding children's behaviour and put
an end to any activity that could harm, either physically or emotionally, our
most vulnerable citizens," said Councillor Joe Mihevc, Chair of the Toronto
Board of Health.

Toronto Public Health is one of over 70 organizations in Canada supporting the
repeal of Section 43 on the basis that it violates childrens' rights to equal
protection from assault and undermines attempts to educate the public on
effective alternative disciplinary strategies.

Research shows physical punishment is not effective in modifying child
behaviour and poses a significant risk for immediate and long term harm to

Background information, including survey highlights, are posted at For information on parenting services and
programs, contact Toronto Public Health at 338-7600.

Media contacts:
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7873
Corinne Robertshaw, Coordinator of the Repeal 43 Committee, 416-489-9339
Dr. Joan Durrant, University of Manitoba, 204-474-8060
Hélène Tessier, La Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la
jeunesse, 514-873-5146.



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