Spanked children not abused: Ontario pastor

A pastor came to the defence of two parents, Friday, whose seven children were recently taken by authorities concerned about corporal punishment in the home.

"There was no sign of abuse at all found," said Rev. Henry Hildebrandt, of the Aylmer Church of God.

He told reporters that he was in the family's home Wednesday when the four boys and three girls, aged six to 14, were inspected by social workers.

After about two hours, the children were forcibly removed because the couple refused to promise to stop spanking their children, according to Hildebrandt.

The pastor argued that corporal punishment is endorsed by the Bible, which warns against sparing the rod. He said the parents used a strap on their children only when other methods of discipline failed.

Spanking itself is not necessarily abusive, according to Ontario's Family and Children Services.

But the organization says youngsters must be protected from adults who regularly hit them with belts, sticks, chains, or other objects.

Family and Children Services would not comment directly on the Aylmer case because it's now before the courts. But it said removing youngsters from a home is considered a drastic step, taken only when authorities believe children are in danger.

Last year, Family and Children Services investigated 71,000 allegations of child abuse, seizing 14,000 boys and girls.

The parents of the seven children are scheduled to appear in court Monday in St. Thomas, Ont. to try to regain custody. In the meantime, the boys and girls have been put in foster care.

The Ontario Court of Appeal is set to hear a separate case this fall that challenges federal Criminal Code provisions allowing parents to spank their children under certain conditions.