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Helping New Brunswickers Know the Law

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April 24, 2007

Brochure on spanking and disciplining of children released

FREDERICTON (CNB) – A new publication on spanking and disciplining of children has been released by the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB).

The pamphlet, Spanking & Disciplining Children: What You Should Know About Section 43 of the Criminal Code, is written in plain language for parents and others with children in their care, and reviews a 2004 landmark Supreme Court of Canada case.

“While the decision to spank children is up to individual parents, there is often a fine line between spanking a child and physical abuse of a child,” said Deborah Doherty, executive director of PLEIS-NB. “If the force used slips into abusive, harmful or degrading conduct, it could result in a criminal charge or trigger a child protection investigation. We hope that parents and guardians will find this pamphlet to be a useful resource.”

The 2004 Supreme Court case upheld the constitutionality of the so-called spanking provision in the Criminal Code (section 43). However, the court also created a definition in relation to child discipline by interpreting reasonable force as ‘minor corrective force’, which is short-lived and not harmful.

“The court also set limits on what would be considered reasonable force,” Doherty said. “For example, the court determined that it is not reasonable to spank a child under two years of age, because spanking has no value with very young children, because they cannot understand why someone is spanking them, and it can destroy a child's sense of security and self-esteem.”

A non-profit organization that seeks to educate and inform the public about the law, PLEIS-NB receives funding and in-kind support from Justice Canada, the New Brunswick Law Foundation, and the New Brunswick Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of this pamphlet can contact PLEIS-NB at; 506-453-5369, or write PLEIS-NB, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1.