What is No Spank Day and Why is it Recognized?


For several years, the Child Abuse Prevention Committee recognized April 30th as an opportunity to bring awareness to our goal of ending corporal punishment of children, and to offer suggestions on more appropriate ways to teach our children.  The Child Abuse Prevention Committee of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society continues to recognize this date as a means to consider alternatives to physical discipline. 


Consider positive discipline! Children learning and living in families where calm and cool rule. Where consistent and clear cues assist kids to plan and think through supported by affection then encouraged with recognition when they begin to learn to do the many things they need to do.   Kids become more able to be responsible and capable of choices they can make through consequences they earn for all the rest they need help they still have much to learn.  

Research has shown, that non-violent parenting can produce children who: 

  • Are less aggressive
  • Internalize moral values
  • Feel closer to their parents
  • Are less likely to exhibit criminal behaviour in the future
  • Are less likely to hit their future spouses
  •   Have better mental health

Other Points to Ponder:

A) Spanking Policy

It is the policy of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society to advocate the use of positive discipline without violence and to oppose the use of spanking.  We further seek to provide alternatives to spanking and support parents in making the necessary adjustments to achieve a 'hands off' parenting style.  

B) What is Spanking?  

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada permits spanking children and corporal punishment as “reasonable force” in the name of discipline by a caregiver.  There are some restrictions, however.  For example, children under the age of two or over the age of twelve cannot be spanked.  Spanking should not leave marks, cause injury or be inflicted to the face or head.  Objects including a fist, belt or wooden spoon (acceptable implements of punishment in previous generations) cannot be used.    Children are the only group of people in Canada who are able to be hit in this way.  Adults are prohibited by law from hitting other adults, children from hitting other children, and yet the law permits adults in caregiving roles to hit children.   

C) Why is Spanking Used in our Society?

  • Belief that if a child is not spanked, the child is not sufficiently disciplined and will become spoiled and/or delinquent
  • Tradition and familiarity with spanking in the family and in our culture out of anger and frustration
  • Normal child misbehavior is seen as the child being “bad” and therefore deserving of a spank

  D) How & When is spanking used?

  • Peak use is with pre-schoolers (2-5 years, many spanked before age 2)
  • Discharge of tension or stress in parent, where often little connection between child’s behaviour and spank is evident
  • Used habitually and quickly by some parents for a wide range of behaviours
  • The vast majority of parents in North America indicate they spank their children (appr.90% or greater)

E) Adverse Effects of Spanking

  • Increasing the severity of the hitting can occur quickly and easily; many abusive parents feel their child 'deserved' to be hit in the name of 'discipline' and did not initially intend to injure their child.
  • Not necessary for the healthy child development. Non-violent methods are associated with better outcomes
  • Does not teach the child how to control him or herself – it is external, rather than internal in its focus.
  • Spanking is violence and causes pain and suffering to the child; the parent may feel guilty and unhappy about using spanking afterwards
  • Associated with increased aggression, and severe intra-family aggression over time (e.g., aggression to parents, severe attacks on siblings)
  • Associated with increased long-term risk for depression as an adult
  • Associated with parenting style of low warmth, low degree of attention to positive behaviours, and high authoritarianism—this style is associated with generally poorer child development progress/outcome
  • Difficult to use with older children teaches a double standard of behaviour, where violence is permitted to be used by parents and modeled by parents

F) What do Children Say About Spanking

(“smack” = “spank” as these are quotes from British children)  

‘A smack is when people hit you and it stings and I cry’ (5 year old girl)  

‘It’s when someone is cross with you they hit you and it hurts’ (7 year old girl)  

‘You feel you don’t like your parents anymore’ (7 year old girl)  

' I would smack children when I’m at the age of 20 or an adult because if I’m a parent you have to smack children’   (6 year old boy)  

G) Spanking, The Law and Child Abuse

The legality of spanking creates a societal climate which increases the likelihood of physical and emotional abuse.  Parents may begin to spank a child with discipline and restraint in mind and end up beating the child.  Parents may believe they are justified in hitting the child, that the child 'deserved it'.   Legal support for spanking and the treatment of children as property lowers the respect for children as equals in terms of human rights.  This lower-rights status can contribute to an abusive climate.  

H) Positive Discipline Involves: 

  •   Communication with the child about reasons, giving information and cues to help the child learn to behave differently
  • Encouraging and praising the child; emphasizing what the child can do and what the child does well
  • Instructional, modeling, and educational approaches to child behaviour and expectations of children
  • Realizing that when children are young, misbehaviour will be common no matter what techniques are used
  • Views misbehaviour in terms of the child as having difficulty with expectations and tasks, rather than the child as being “bad”
  • Warmth, closeness and sensitivity within the child-parent relationship is valued as highly as child
  • Obedience
  • Firm limits, clear and consistent expectations and predictable, reasonable, age-appropriate consequences

I) Spanking and World-Wide Efforts to End It’s Use  

Spanking has been banned by law or legal precedent in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Cyprus, Croatia, Latvia, Germany, Italy, Israel and Spain to name just a few.  There are efforts in more than 52 countries to eliminate spanking as an acceptable discipline practice.

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