More than half of Canadians say ‘spanking’ law should be abolished: study

More than half of Canadians say it’s time to abolish the “spanking” law, which allows school teachers, parents or any parental figure of a student or child to use physical force to discipline them.

The online survey, conducted by B.C.-based polling company Research Co., said 51 per cent of Canadians say section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada should be abolished. This marked a shifting outlook from Canadians, as only 34 per cent agreed to ban the law in 2018.

“Every school teacher, 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,” the law states.

According to the poll, 61 per cent of Quebecers support a repeal, following 50 per cent of people in British Columbia, 49 per cent in Ontario and Alberta, and 45 per cent in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada.

The survey also showed a generational divide on support for a repeal of the law. About 61 per cent of Canadians between the age of 18 and 34-years-old agreed to banning the law, as well as 53 per cent of those between the ages of 35 to 54-years-old.

However, only 44 per cent of those over the age of 55 showed support for repealing the law.

Several countries in Latin America, Europe, and some in Africa have completely prohibited corporal punishments on minors. Previous studies have shown corporal punishment on children can affect their brain development, in a similar way to other severe forms of abuse.

However, in Canada the topic continues to be debated as some say it gives abusive parents a defence for assaulting their children while others say the law is too confusing on what constitutes “reasonable force.”

In May 2022, NDP MP Peter Julian proposed legislation, Bill C-273, which would eliminate the “spanking” law in a call to end physical punishment on children. Bill S-251, a similar move to repeal the law, was brought up for the second time in the Senate recently by Saskacthewan Senator Marty Klyne, in support of fulfilling Canada’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation Act’s calls to action.

“Bill S-251 can be summarized in three words: Every child matters. This is a principle that Canadian society is learning and working to uphold,” Klyne said in December.

The survey also found that 61 per cent of Canadians said they were physically disciplined as children and 22 per cent were also given the same force in school. Another generational divide was shown in Canadians who had these personal experiences, as 67 per cent over the age of 55 said they were physically disciplined as children. While 47 per cent was reported among those 18 to 34-years-old and 65 per cent for those aged 35 to 54-years-old.


The online survey was conducted between Feb. 9, 2023 and Feb. 11, 2023 using a sample size of 1,000 Canadian adults over the age of 18. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

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