In a recent conversation thread posted on Facebook in regards to spanking a child, the comments ranged from it’s o.k. to do so for discipline, to- ‘it’s never o.k to hit a child’. Some comments in regards to spanking a child gave reasons as to when it was acceptable to spank. One comment in particular mentioned spanking a child was acceptable if the child was in danger, amongst other comments with supporting reasons including that this form of discipline was used on ‘them’ (the commentators) and they turned out ‘o.k.’
It is NEVER o.k. to hit or abuse another human being- including children- it IS assault and it is a CRIME.
Civil law in Manitoba allows the province to intervene to protect children. The Child and Family Services Act requires child and family services agencies and the police to take action to protect children. A child in need of protection is one whose life, health or emotional well-being is endangered by the actions or omissions of a person.
Children are also protected under criminal law. The Criminal Code of Canada has a number of provisions to protect children and punish offenders. These include criminal negligence, assault and sexual assault and sexual offences against children.
- People do get angry at children due to frustration, being tired or overwhelmed and numerous other reasons. Often when children misbehave or are not ‘listening’ people may resort to spanking as a form of discipline.
- If a child is not listening or obeying the rules, including if they are in danger spanking or any other form of abuse is not helpful.
If a child is in danger, for instance stepping out into the street after you have told the child not to, the best way to teach a child not to do so is to gently explain to the child the dangers of what could happen. Explaining to a child that he or she could get hit by a vehicle is more effective than shouting, or hitting the child. A child can ‘imagine’ the horror: the image of this happening is often enough for a child to understand why you are firm about this rule and will most likely avoid breaking this rule. Taking the time to explain the ‘why’s’ is effective.
If the child still doesn’t understand, or continues to step out into the street, appropriate discipline would be not allowing the child to play outside, or the child would not be allowed to walk with you without holding your hand at all times. (Children like to walk beside you freely- they enjoy finding things, picking up ‘treasures’ rocks, twigs, pennies…things that are interesting to a child)
If you find yourself getting angry to a point where you feel yourself raising your voice (shouting) at a child, or you feel you might strike a child- REMOVE yourself from the situation for a few minutes. (Be sure the child is safe first- in a play pen, in front of the television with a favorite program, anything SAFE) Go to the bathroom for a moment or two- go to your bedroom, take a few breaths.
- A time out for the child works- put him or her in their room. Close the door. A few minutes, sometimes even less than a few minutes works!
- Call a neighbor or friend.
- Call someone to come over to help you, or to give you a little time for a break. Go for a walk.
- Breath and remember, that this is a CHILD you are angry with- and more often than not, it isn’t about the child- it is about YOU, and your frustration, and stress over other things that have nothing to do with the child.
- If you were abused as a child or punished with physical abuse (even if you THINK you ‘turned out o.k.) try thinking back to those times and remember how you did feel when you were hit, shouted at, or ‘spanked’ (It DIDN’T feel good!)
The cycle of abuse needs to stop. The cycle of abuse can stop with you.
Remember that spanking can and usually DOES escalate.
In the attached video, the abuse escalated to the extreme- which could have been avoided. Child abuse can stop, and can be avoided in the first place with a few steps and information available province wide.
Visit the family law website for more information here (link)
You can also visit the Winnipeg Police Services website and view the downloadable PDF on Winnipeg Domestic Violence (link)