Canada: End Legalized Physical Discipline Against Children

Target: Canadian Parliament 

Goal: Make parental discipline by physical force illegal, and educate parents on alternative discipline methods

In Canada, it is legal for a parent to use physical force to discipline their children. Sanctioning such violence gives Canadian parents dangerously ambiguous license to physically punish their children. Recent research also suggests that such behavior could have long-term detrimental effects on the emotional growth of youth.

The statute in question, Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, states, “a parent is justified in using force by way of correction…if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.” The most appalling aspect of this code is the fact that the “extent” of physical force can be left open to interpretation due to the “circumstances.” An appropriate level of physical harm should not be left to the determination of parents or the state. No level of harming one’s children is appropriate.

Physical force is a long antiquated form of disciplining one’s children and Canada’s law must reflect more well adjusted, modern attitudes towards corrective measures. A recent analysis by the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that such discipline results in increased childhood aggression and mental health problems in adulthood.

In place of physical discipline, parents need to be educated on alternative discipline options, which are ultimately more productive for both parents and children. Sign this petition to demand that Canada remove this archaic code in order to prevent the continued use of ineffective and harmful parental discipline by force.


Dear Canadian Parliament,

Parents within your country have a legal excuse to physically assault their children as a discipline measure. This is unacceptable. Such statutes are outdated as parental attitudes have changed, and research done which demonstrates the negative effects of such discipline.

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada states, “a parent is justified in using force by way of correction…if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.” Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this code are its ambiguous parameters. Neither parents nor the state should have any part in determining the “extent” to which a child may be physically hurt due to certain “circumstances.” Physical harm should never be a viable, nor legal, option.

An analysis by the Canadian Medical Association Journal demonstrates that physical discipline of children results in increased childhood aggression, and eventually severe mental health issues upon adulthood. More effective discipline measures exist. I urge you to devise programs which educate parents on alternative discipline methods, and discourage physical discipline by removing the statute in the Criminal Code which sanctions it.


[Your Name Here]

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40 Signatures

  • Darlene Roepke
  • Lynn Juozilaitis
  • Ann Blank
  • tam O
  • Mary-Carol Gales
  • Eveline Mutsaerts
  • Debbie Biere
  • Carole Mathews
  • Amy Wilson
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