The physical punishment of children in Canada has been a topic widely discussed for decades. A recent United Nations’ global study on violence against children found that physical punishment is one of the most extensive forms of violence experienced by children worldwide. In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada considered the first major children’s rights case under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which challenged the use of physical punishment on children. The decision has important implications for social workers, parents, educators and others. But how well do people know and understand the decision? This paper reviews the Supreme Court’s decision and considers the current social and legal positioning of children in Canada regarding the use of physical punishment, and reports on findings of a study into the public’s knowledge, understanding and needs arising from the Supreme Court decision. It raises questions concerning the intersection of child protection and children’s rights and challenges social workers to take action to reduce the detrimental impact of child physical punishment and support initiatives that affirm a child’s inherent rights and dignity.
McKay, S., Fuchs, D. & Brown, I. (Eds.). Passion for Action in Child and Family Services: Voices from the Prairies. Regina, SK: Canadian Plains Research Center: pp. 207-226.