How a parent chooses to discipline their children is a very personal decision. It is a question that no parent should answer flippantly. Not all homeschooling parents will choose to use spanking in their family, and this article should not be perceived as an encouragement to spank or not to spank. This is simply an explanation of the law of Canada so that families can know, and abide by, the limits of the law.
In 2004, The Supreme Court of Canada dealt with the issue of corporal punishment. Section 43 of the Criminal Code states:
Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.
Section 43 mandates that the force must be used for the education, discipline, or correction of the child. It makes no allowance for outbursts of violence against a child, or for force motivated by anger. It makes no excuse for degrading, inhuman, or harmful conduct.
To be specific, The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the following forms of corporal punishment would not be protected by Section 43:
Corporal punishment of children under the age of two and children with some learning disabilities cannot be corrective because they are not able to understand the purpose of the corporal punishment due to their young age or disability, and therefore are not capable of benefiting from the correction.
Corporal punishment of teenagers is harmful because it can induce aggressive or antisocial behaviour.
Corporal punishment using objects, such as rulers or belts, is physically and emotionally harmful.
Corporal punishment which involves slaps or blows to the head is harmful.
Further, all provinces and territories have child protection laws that require a person to report a situation where there is reason to believe that a child is being harmed. This is why neighbors and members of the community may feel obligated to call the authorities when they suspect that harm is being done in a homeschooling family. If in the process of that investigation it is proven that there is real harm, or the prospect of real harm, to the child then the parent would be vulnerable to criminal prosecution.
While the law as it currently stands does protect your right as a parent to use corporal discipline in your home, there are limits to the law of which you need to be aware. If allegations were made against you, HSLDA would be there to support you through the process and to defend your right to parent and homeschool your children.