Group calls for repeal of Section 43 to protect children from physical punishment

November 18, 2015

An organization concerned about children’s rights has called upon the Trudeau government to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code without delay.

Corinne’s Quest, an organization established to encourage non-violent means of raising and caring for Canada’s children, says Section 43 is outdated, not needed and violates the human rights of children.

Section 43 states: 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.

Kathy Lynn of Vancouver, a parenting speaker and chair of Corinne’s Quest, says assaulting children is no longer a normal or acceptable way to raise children. And, she says, it has never been an effective long-term parenting strategy, but can lead to significant harm.

She said 47 countries have abolished laws that permit assaulting children. Canada has not done so, even though it signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The UN Committee that monitors compliance has twice recommended that Canada prohibit corporal punishment of children. In 2003, it informed our government that it was “deeply concerned” that Canada has taken no action to remove Section 43 from the Code.

“In the past we have had laws on the books which permitted assaulting slaves, servants, apprentices, prisoners, wives, dogs and children,” said Lynn. “Today, children are the only ones left on that list.”

Existing laws provide adequate protection for a reasonable parent who is controlling an unruly child or is protecting him from harm, she said.

“Section 43 is an embarrassment,” said Lynn. “It is outrageous that Canada still has a law which actually provides guidance as to how to hit children and escape legal responsibility. Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.

“It is the only section of the criminal code that is prescriptive in this way. All other sections are designed to protect Canadians, except Section 43.”

Repealing section 43 is a public policy issue, in the same class as the courageous action Canada took 40 years ago when Canada banned the death penalty.

This law has nothing to do with raising children. Section 43 has everything to do with protecting people who hit kids, she said.

“We should realize by now that violence of any kind has no place in modern-day society. It certainly has no place being permitted and excused by our laws,” she said.

Corinne’s Quest, named after a longtime advocate for repeal of Section 43, was formed to focus public sentiment against this law and to encourage non-violent and more effective means of raising and disciplining children.

Nov. 20 is National Child Day in Canada, and Corinne’s Quest has chosen this week to focus public attention on the issue of Section 43 and the rights of Canadian children, and to press the new federal government to repeal this law.

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Editors: Kathy Lynn is an accomplished speaker and media commentator on this topic and is available for interviews in all media. You may contact her in Vancouver at 604-258-9074 to arrange interviews.

For more background on this issue, go to:
Our website provides additional insights and relevant links or

Repeal 43 Committee
Discusses some of the legal questions and research
on the effects of corporal punishment

Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children
Offers some international perspectives on the issue.

For many years First Call has called for the repeal of Section 43 of the criminal code that allows for the physical punishment of children. In 2015 the campaign was reinvigorated under the banner of Corinne’s Quest.