Sask. children's advocate adds support to anti-spanking bill
A Saskatchewan Conservative member of Parliament is fighting anti-spanking legislation, but the province's children's advocate is not supporting her.
Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar MP Kelly Block recently sent out a newsletter with the headline, "Are parents criminals?" It's a reference to bill S-209, introduced in the Senate two years ago by Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, a Liberal.
The bill, which received third reading in the Senate but hasn't been passed in the House of Commons, calls for an end to the legal exemption that allows physical punishment for the purpose of correcting a child's behaviour.
Block said the law is "a terrible idea" that would criminalize normal parental disciplinary acts, although there are exceptions.
She called spanking a "traditional punishment" and suggested the Liberals are trying to turn "loving moms and dads" into criminals.
But Saskatchewan children's advocate Marvin Bernstein says Block's defence of spanking as corrective punishment is misguided.
"Really, we are talking about the importance of understanding effective discipline," he said. "Spanking doesn't teach that child anything constructive. There is no communication."
Physical punishment also presents a risk to children in terms of their development and how they relate to others, Bernstein said.
"Violence begets violence," he said, adding that he supports bill S-209 and, in his view, parents do not need protection under the law to physically discipline their children.