Canadians' views on physical discipline for kids are shifting, survey reveals: Do you agree?

A majority of Canadians surveyed agree that it's time to repeal legislation that allows use of force on children.

Boy with head in his hands being punished discipline
More Canadians than ever agree that it's time to repeal legislation that allows use of force in discipline on kids. (Getty Images)

According to a new survey, more than half of Canadians agree it's time to repeal legislation that allows caregivers to use force when disciplining kids.

In the online survey conducted by Research Co., 51 per cent of Canadians answered "yes" when asked "Do you think it is time to abolish the legislation that allows schoolteachers and parents to use 'reasonable force' to discipline children?" That's up 17 points from a similar Research Co. survey conducted in May 2018.

Thirty-eight per cent of those polled disagreed with the sentiment, while 11 per cent of respondents were unsure.

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, the legislation that allows for physical punishment, reads: “Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.”

Results varied by province, with the majority of Quebecers (61 per cent) voicing support for the repeal of Section 43. The results were lower in British Columbia (50 per cent), Ontario and Alberta (49 per cent), and in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada (all 45 per cent).

The survey also revealed that age played a factor in support for ending the use of force on children.

Of those aged 18-to-34, 61 per cent are in agreement, while 53 per cent of those aged 35-to-54 would like to end the use of force to discipline children. Support is lower among Canadians aged 55 and over, at 42 per cent.

In Canada, New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament Peter Julian tabled Bill C-273 in May 2022. The proposed legislation seeks to amend the Criminal Code to repeal Section 43.

Should Canada move forward with the repeal, they would join several other countries that have already adopted laws that prohibit the use of physical punishment towards children, including Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden.

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