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Youth crime bill pushes deterrence

Toronto Star, Nov 20, 2007 , Tonda MacCharles , Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA-Tougher sentences for young offenders can be expected under legislation introduced yesterday that makes judges take deterrence into consideration.

The bill introduced by the Conservative government would also allow the jailing of teenagers charged with serious offences right from the start until their trials are over.

The legislation is part of a law-and-order agenda being pushed this week by the government.

Today, the government is expected to introduce a bill to bring in mandatory minimum jail terms for certain serious drug crimes - and later this week measures to tackle identity theft are expected.

Political and legal experts criticized yesterday's two youth crime measures as unrealistic, possibly unconstitutional and "pandering" to populist sentiment without being based on facts.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson introduced the measures in the Commons to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the successor legislation to the old Young Offenders Act. That law was overhauled in 2003 to put a higher priority on youth rehabilitation.

The Conservatives say it is too soft, and vow more changes are coming as part of their "tackling crime" agenda. The youth justice law will face a broader review next year, its fifth anniversary.

Yesterday, contrary to expectations, the government did not move to impose automatic adult jail terms on young people who commit violent crimes, although it has announced its intention to do so.

Nicholson said he awaits a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the current law, which already provides for adult sentencing for youths in cases of violent crime.
Still, Nicholson justified his bill by saying Canadians are concerned by what he called higher rates of youth crime and the "seriousness of these crimes" in such cities as Halifax, Toronto and Winnipeg.

But experts, including Martha Mackinnon of Justice for Children and Youth, a legal clinic for low-income youth, say serious youth crime is not increasing, except for a blip last year. Mackinnon says the Conservatives are addressing a perception that has been exacerbated by politicians and the media. She also criticized the government's move to bring back "general deterrence" for youths, saying "there's no evidence that deterrence works for young people."

"They tend to act more impulsively than adults. We know how their brains work. They really just don't see the consequences of their actions anyway. They think you're going to live forever, you're not going to be caught, and they are just not going to be deterred by what happened to another young person."

Liberal justice critic Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Lachine) said the government was "pandering. Rather than looking at evidence-based policies that will actually make Canadians safer, they're only interested in shoring up their own political base."

Yesterday's bill does two things:
It reintroduces as a sentencing principle for judges the idea of general deterrence and denunciation. This comes more than a year after the Supreme Court of Canada found it was not a valid consideration for judges under the revamped act. The high court noted there is "much controversy" over the concept, and said Parliament had already made the "policy choice" to take "general deterrence" or denunciation out of the mix for sentencing young people.

It also makes it easier for a judge to deny pre-trial bail to an accused young person. A judge may consider "any pending charges," whether the charges are for a serious violent crime, and if the person is a repeat young offender, has a history of breaching release orders, or is a risk to cause "serious bodily harm" to another person.

Mackinnon said the provision puts "too much of the decision-making back in the hands of police officers" because it encourages officers who want to ensure a youth is jailed to jack up the number of charges they lay in an incident.

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh) said the measure is "basically useless" and a "political" move "because our judges are already dealing with the detention of youth when appropriate using the same type of criteria that's in that part of the bill."

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.