By Jason Proctor, CBC News
|A provincial court judge found there was no valid excuse for a Salmon Arm, B.C., couple to 'spank' their child with a mini hockey stick and skipping rope. (Summer Skyes photography/Flickr)|
In a case that tests issues of consent, discipline and parental responsibility, provincial court Judge Edmond de Walle found no excuse for the parents' behaviour.
"In this day and age, any reasonable parent would be concerned about a teenager sending nude pictures of him or herself via a cellphone or any other electronic device. The pitfalls and dangers of such activities are well-reported. Such behaviours can lead to bullying and even suicide," de Walle wrote.
2 options: grounding or spanking
The incident occurred in 2015 on Valentine's Day.
It came to the attention of police when the daughter showed bruises on her buttocks to two of her girlfriends, who in turn reported what they had seen to the school principal.
According to de Walle's ruling, the father had previously confiscated the daughter's cellphone because of her renewed relationship with the boyfriend.
|The Supreme Court has ruled that children |
between the age of two and under the age of 13
can be spanked if the action is seen
as corrective and reasonable.
"On reviewing the text messages on the iPad the father discovered messages that referred to his daughter sending nude photographs of herself," de Walle wrote.
"The daughter believed that the photos only lasted a few seconds after transmission using the Snapchat site."
The father confronted the daughter and told her "she needed to respect herself and not throw herself at boys."
He then discussed what form of punishment would be appropriate. "The daughter subsequently recalled that her father offered her two options: to be grounded for a really long time or to be spanked."
She opted for the spanking.
According to the decision, the father struck his daughter two or three times with a plastic mini hockey stick about 45 centimetres (18 inches) in length. He then told his wife what had happened.
"The mother became upset and picked up a skipping rope that was in the garage," the decision says.
"She hit her daughter two or three times on her buttocks with the skipping rope. The mother said she was doing this because she loved her daughter."
Is the judge suggesting that maybe she doesn't love her daughter or had another motive for spanking her?
The hand is for love, not discipline
On the stand, the father, who had no criminal record, described his family as Christian. His father used to discipline him with an orange plastic spoon.
"He testified that the hand is used for compassion and love, not for discipline," de Walle wrote.
"In other words, the father believes that an object, not the hand, must be used when administering discipline."
Legal arguments in the case centred on a child's ability to consent to an assault from a parent and the consideration that goes into "corrective force" used by parents as discipline.
The judge found that the parents were in a position of authority, and she wasn't offered a choice beyond grounding or assault.
Really, your honour? Is this about how many choices she was offered? Were you looking for something more gentle as an option when removing her cell-phone obviously didn't work? Do you have any children, your honour?
"Although the complainant chose a 'spanking,' it was not a fully informed consent with an appreciation of all the consequences," de Walle wrote.
Is there a text-book on how to fully inform a child of all the consequences of a spanking? Was he supposed to take her to a lawyer to discuss it first? What are the consequences of spanking besides 'it hurts'?
As far as discipline is concerned, the Supreme Court has set out considerations whereby "corrective force" is deemed reasonable as opposed to assault: It must be intended for educative or corrective purposes, and the force has to be reasonable under the circumstances.
The law generally accepts that those rules don't apply to corporal punishment used on children under two or teenagers.
In the case at hand, de Walle found the father had clearly intended the spanking as punishment for sexting.
Isn't spanking 'corrective'. It sure worked on me when I was young.
"The parents took no educative or corrective steps by seeking out expert help or any other assistance," de Walle wrote.
"Their actions were solely punitive and not corrective. In my view, the actions of the parents were also degrading."
I wonder how he got to that conclusion that their actions were not corrective. Isn't that why they took her cell-phone away, to correct her behaviour? Also, I doubt that the spanking degraded her any more than the awareness that she sent nude pictures of herself on the internet.
The judge also found the use of weapons — "namely the plastic mini hockey stick and the skipping rope" — was not reasonable under the circumstances and amounted to excessive corporal punishment.
So was there some serious or permanent damage done? In some cultures she might have been stoned to death or received dozens of lashes - each one breaking the skin. In other countries she might have been sentenced to gang-rape. But we are above that, as we should be. But if spanking doesn't cause any damage requiring medical intervention, how much harm can it do? It might even do a lot of good.
On the other hand, our liberal attitudes nowadays have produced such a great generation of moral teenagers, how can we argue with that?
He found both the mother and the father guilty of assault. The couple have yet to be sentenced. Their next court date is in March.
So there you have it once again. Thousands of years of traditional behaviour declared illegal. Another volley in the war on Christianity. What's the world coming to?