The editor of a prestigious Canadian medical journal has called for lawmakers in Canada to strike down a statute that protects spanking as a legal form of physical punishment that parents and teachers can apply to kids, The Globe and Mail reports. Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that a parent can use physical punishment "if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances."
"It is time for Canada to remove this anachronistic excuse for poor parenting from the statute book," editor John Fletcher wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. But Fletcher also said an occasional spanking shouldn't be treated like a criminal act. From The Globe and Mail:
"If the aim is to improve parenting," he writes, "then calling the police is the wrong approach."
Instead, he's hoping to shift the focus to how ineffective spanking actually is.
"I'm not sure the message has got out that regular physical punishment isn't a good way to get kids to behave properly and can lead to later problems," he said in an interview. He defines regular physical punishment as more than two incidents a month.
This follows two recent studies that connected spanking to problems in children. One study, published this summer by the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that physical punishments, such slapping, hitting, pushing and shoving, were linked to mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse in the children who were punished.
Image: Parents with son in trouble via Shutterstock.