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Youth crime law to get overhaul

Ottawa to consult with provinces on possible amendments - Won't appeal Quebec ruling declaring parts unconstitutional

Toronto Star, by ANDREW CHUNG, OTTAWA BUREAU, May 2, 2003, page A6

OTTAWA - The federal government will not appeal a Quebec court ruling that declared certain provisions in the new Youth Criminal Justice Act unconstitutional.

And Justice Minister Martin Cauchon made it clear yesterday it is already open to other changes in the act, which only came into effect April 1.

The act, which has been fiercely opposed by Quebec as too harsh and Ontario as too lenient, attempted to strike a balance between getting tough with youth who commit serious crimes and rehabilitating less serious offenders with non-jail solutions.

But already it appears set for the same fate as its predecessor, the much-maligned 1984 Young Offenders Act, often criticized as not tough enough and frequently amended in response to pressure from the provinces, police and victims groups.

The government will go ahead with consultations with the provinces to determine what amendments should be made to the act, Cauchon said.

Amendments will not be put in place until at least the fall.

Quebec viewed the federal law as overly harsh, infringing on provincial jurisdiction and violating the legal and human rights of young people. The province challenged its constitutionality by referring the matter to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

A court tribunal ruled on March 31 that two sections of the Act, dealing with sentencing a minor as an adult, and having a youth's identity publicly disclosed, violated Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Cauchon acknowledged the ruling in the House of Commons yesterday — the last day to appeal — and said the government would not argue against it at the Supreme Court.

"We have decided today to not proceed with an appeal," Cauchon said, "since there is means to meet the intention of the legislation in a different way."

The appeal court found it wrong that the onus was on the young offender to argue against a tougher adult sentence being imposed rather than on the crown to argue why it should be.

It also didn't like the burden being placed on the young offender to argue that information about his or her sentence should not be made public, said Catherine Latimer, the justice department's director-general of youth justice policy.

But the burden will now be on the crown to show the sentences are necessary and that information can be publicly revealed, Latimer said.

"The public needs to be assured adult penalties will still be available," she said.

Latimer stressed the Quebec ruling was a declaratory judgment — in effect, an opinion of the judges — that does not strike down the provisions of the act.

"Our conclusion is that our policy objectives can be achieved without violating rights," she added.

The new act requires police to consider alternatives to laying a criminal charge, including letting a youth off with a warning, a formal caution or referring the youth to a community program. Judges are also obliged to consider all reasonable alternatives to custody.

It's tougher in some ways. For instance, it lowers, to 14 from 16 , the age at which it's presumed youths will be sentenced as adults for crimes such as homicide and aggravated sexual assault.

Canada now has one of the highest youth-incarceration rates among Western countries.

Don't Spank

Canadian Paediatric Society - Spanking

Don't Spank - Canadian Paediatric Society

Effective discipline for children

Reaffirmed: February 1, 2014

Principal author(s)

P Nieman, S Shea; Canadian Paediatric Society, Community Paediatrics Committee

Paediatric Child Health 2004;9(1):37-41

The word discipline means to impart knowledge and skill - to teach. However, it is often equated with punishment and control. There is a great deal of controversy about the appropriate ways to discipline children, and parents are often confused about effective ways to set limits and instill self-control in their child.

In medical and secular literature, there is great diversity of opinion about the short-term and long-term effects of various disciplinary methods, especially the use of disciplinary spanking. This statement reviews the issues concerning childhood discipline and offers practical guidelines for physicians to use in counselling parents about effective discipline.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that physicians take an anticipatory approach to discipline, including asking questions about techniques used in the home. Physicians should actively counsel parents about discipline and should strongly discourage the use of spanking.

Corporal Punishment Damaging to Children

ABC News USA - Spanking children Leads to aggression

Spanking May Lead to Aggression Later in Life

07 February, 2012

Physical punishment of children, such as spanking, is increasingly linked with long-term adverse consequences, researchers wrote.

An analysis of research conducted since the 1990 adoption of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child suggests that no studies have found positive consequences of physical punishment, according to Joan Durrant of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and Ron Ensom of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

While some studies have found little effect either way, most research has uncovered a range of negative outcomes, including increased aggression and later delinquency, Durrant and Ensom wrote online in CMAJ.

The clinical implication, they suggested, is that doctors who are familiar with the research can help parents find more constructive ways of providing discipline.

"In doing so, physicians strengthen child well-being and parent-child relationships at the population level," they wrote.

They noted that as recently as 1992, physical punishment of children was widely accepted, thought of as distinct from abuse, and considered "appropriate" as a way of eliciting desired behavior.

But research under way at that time was beginning to draw links between physical punishment and aggression in childhood, later delinquency, and spousal assault.


Spank Out Day
April 30th

Picture Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada -
Cour suprême du Canada

Corporal Punishment of Children Decision

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Alyson Schafer - parent educator - corporal punishment of children and discipline

Alyson Schafer on Spanking and Corporal Punishment of Children

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada's leading parenting experts. She's the author of the best-selling "Breaking the Good Mom Myth" (Wiley, 2006) and host of TV's The Parenting Show a live call-in show in Toronto, Ontario.

The media relies on Alyson's comments and opinions. you can find her interviewed and quoted extensively in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Readers' Digest, Canadian Living, Today's Parents, and Canadian Families.

You can read Alyson's thoughts.

Laws on Corporal Punishment of Children from around the World

CTV - Parent education - Parenting style can change child behaviour

Parenting style can change child behaviour News Staff, February 21, 2005

Parents who are punitive tend to have aggressive children. But a new survey suggests that when parenting practices change, a child's behaviour also changes.

The results of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) suggests children show higher levels of aggression, are more anxious and less altruistic when parents have a more punitive parenting style.