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Am I allowed to spank my children?

By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer

Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)

On January 15, 2002, the Ontario Court of Appeal had ruled that section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which allows the use of ‘reasonable force’ by parents and teachers in disciplining children, does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and will remain in effect. This decision resulted from an application that was brought before the court by the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law to remove this section from the Criminal Code on the basis that it is unconstitutional and violates the Charter. Section 43 states:

“Every school teacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent, is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.”

In the decision of Canadian Foundation For Children, Youth and the Law v. Attorney General of Canada, (January 15, 2002), Ontario Court of Appeal, the appellate court ruled that the main purpose of this section is ‘to allow for the use of strictly limited corrective force on children by parents and teachers in carrying out their responsibilities to train and nurture the children’. However, Family Court Judges believe that positive discipline can be done without physical or emotional harm to a child and, generally, do not accept physical discipline as an appropriate method of disciplining children.

Steven Benmor

About the author: Steven Benmor practices Family Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit Steven Benmor’s online Family Law Resource Center for concise answers to many more frequently asked Family law questions, feature articles on Family law topics, dozens of links to other Family law websites, and more at The information on this page is for discussion purposes only. It is by no means legal advice or even a statement of the law on this subject. Please do not rely on the accuracy or completeness of this information. Any question or concern elicited by the information on this page should be taken to a lawyer who will consider the facts of each case and the legal remedies available.