Dawn Black lobbies for change to spanking laws

Former New Westminster MLA and MP Dawn Black is fighting to change the Criminal Code so spanking is no longer allowed.

Black is part of a committee that’s seeking to repeal the section of the Criminal Code that permits the hitting of children.

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“I worked on it in the House of Commons and pushed for it,” Black told the Record. “A friend of mine is a parenting expert who has had this on the side of her desk for a number of years. She has now retired and has decided to put more effort into it and put together a committee. She asked me to help with it.”

Black said research shows that spanking doesn’t work as a parenting tool and can be harmful to kids.

“The research is rock solid. It doesn’t work and it can be harmful. So why would you keep doing that?” she said. “Why would you have it in your own Criminal Code? It’s like a statement – our country says it’s OK to hit kids. I don’t think that’s good.”

According to Black, nearly 50 countries have banned the hitting of children, but Canada and the United states are “behind the times” where laws are concerned. At a time when society is trying to model non-bullying behaviour, she said it’s time to change the law.

“It used to be in the Criminal Code that you could hit your wife, you could hit your apprentice, you could hit your slave, you could hit a variety of people,” she said. “The only one that’s left there is that you can hit your children.”

Black said the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that Section 43 of the Criminal Code be repealed, as a result of the physical discipline and abuse that occurred at residential schools. Section 43 is the section of the Criminal Code that permits spanking.

“It’s hard to get governments to move,” she said. “There are people who will tell you ‘I got hit as a kid, it didn’t hurt me.' People model the behavior their parents had, which is one of the things to come out of the truth and Reconciliation Commission –  generational damage goes down three or four generations because people model the way they were raised.”

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