Letter published in Ottawa area local paper.
Loving parents who use spanking as part of the discipline regimen for their
children need to be very worried. On July 5 in southern Ontario, the police
took 7 children from a Christian family under an order from the Children's
Aid Society. Three police officers had to drag off the 14-year-old because
he didn't want to go. According to news reports, the offence was that the
parents sometimes spank their children - with an inanimate object (e.g. a
belt or switch).
No reports are forthcoming claiming that the parents abused their children,
and neighbours told the media that their experience with the family
indicates that the children are loved and well cared for. In fact, according
to the Globe & Mail, some neighbours and church members from the family's
church tried to get involved to prevent the authorities from taking the
children. According to another news report, the Aylmer police chief said,
"the children were inspected for bruises and obvious signs of abuse before
they were taken but none were found."
Whether or not you agree with spanking should be beside the point - there
are some very troubling aspects to this incident which should disturb all
people. Most importantly, spanking is not against the law. It is absolutely
horrific that in a free and democratic society, children can be taken from
their parents because unaccountable bureaucrats think they know better than
the law. And the law has been tested more than once in recent years, yet the
courts and our legislators continue to support the law as it stands at the
moment. They have concluded that it is sufficient (although perhaps not
perfect) at distinguishing spanking from abuse.
This situation is not isolated. In home schooling circles, we hear reports
fairly regularly of child welfare workers in different parts of the province
wanting to investigate families, and often one of the concerns raised in the
reports is that the parents spank their children. Home school leaders are
saying that child welfare workers are now a greater threat to families than
are education department bureaucrats.
This is true. The Children's Aid Society is a threat to good families, not
just disfunctional ones. There is no effective accountability for the
agency. When they take children away they hide behind a veil of secrecy,
refusing to speak about the case. They operate under a second level of law
outside the criminal justice system, which gives them the right to flout the
principles of justice in a free society such as an assumption of innocence:
they are allowed to act first, and ask questions later - supposedly because
of the high value our society places on the well-being of children. But they
aren't punished when their zeal leads to the breakup of a good family. This
despite the fact that the experience in foster homes and other situations
often harms the children in ways that they would not have experienced if
their families were kept intact.
I used to work on Parliament Hill for an MP interested in such issues as
this. I've seen the research and arguments for and against spanking. Whether
you believe it is a legitimate form of punishment or not, it is impossible
to look honestly at the scientific research and conclude that spanking in
and of itself is detrimental to a child's welfare. The CAS has put ideology
ahead of the well-being of children. Their ideological extremism is putting
children and their families at risk, in part because the agency is not
properly accountable to the public or our elected politicians. All
legitimate cases dealt with by the CAS could be addressed equally well in a
properly functioning criminal justice system. The CAS serves no essential
service in a free and democratic society. It needs to be abolished now, or
at the very least, radically overhauled.