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OCHEC Responds...

Date: JUL-17-01
Source: OCHEC
Keywords: strategy
Posted: JUL-22-01
Editorials Index

There is a lot of repetition in the message below. It comes from OCHEC (The Ontario Christian Home Educators Connection)

Dear OCHEC Family:

Much of the following has been excerpted from HSLDA and Citizen Impact. We have talked to some people close to the situation and find that the children were well liked and respectful. The church they attend is very similar to any mainstream church, though perhaps closest to the Mennonite church.

History: News has been circulating in the media and in the home school circles about a family in Aylmer, Ontario who had their 7 children taken away by the Children's Aid Society.

The family involved in this situation has seven children between the ages of 6 and 14. The area's Children's Aid Society decided to take the children after the parents refused to promise that they would stop spanking their children. The children were removed kicking and screaming out of their home because of accusations their parents may spank them with sticks and belts. Many neighbours are convinced there wasn't any abuse and spoke to the media of how happy and congenial the children are.

On Monday July 16, 100 members of the congregation (26 women and 74 children) fled the country, as there was another family questioned, and they felt that they could be the next targets.

The pastor of this family reported that there is alcohol and smoking in the homes the children have been placed in. This is completely contrary to their teaching. He also reported that the children were told that what they believe is wrong and that another pastor would be brought in to correct their teaching.

The recent court appearance: On Monday, June 9th the family had their first court appearance. The children will remain in the temporary care and custody of Family and Children's Services, pending further court proceedings. The parents have regular access to the children and the matter will be back in court on July 26, 2001.

OCHEC's Involvement This family is not a home schooling family. The case is of interest to us on humanitarian grounds and on the basis of parental authority. We believe the biblical mandate that parents are to be responsible for the discipline and education of their children. This authority has been taken away by the government for this family, based (as far as we can determine) on what may happen, not what has happened. As an organization we are very sensitive to which areas are parental responsibilities compared to the areas that are the government’s responsibilities. We have been in communication with other organizations involved such as Citizen Impact and HSLDA, who have taken a more active role in meeting with the pastor, the lawyers involved and advising the lawyers on past court cases to obtain the best possible result for parents.

Thanks We are thankful for people like Pastor Hildebrandt, HSLDA, and Citizen Impact for being willing to stand up and be counted as standing for the oppressed families of this land. We are also thankful for being able to use the summaries that the later two organizations have provided in this Email.

Next steps:

1. Pray

  • for the protection and comfort that can only come from God for the children and parents
  • for all the decision makers, that wisdom from God will guide their decisions
  • for those helping the family, especially Pastor Hildebrandt and those advising him for wisdom
  • that the children will be returned to this family as soon as possible.

2. You can show support for this family and for parental rights and freedoms by taking a few minutes to email, write, or call someone who has influence in this area. Writing a letter to your local newspaper would also be beneficial. Public opinion appears to be strong in support of this family.

Some possible themes that you could use:

  • Parents should not be condemned for using reasonable discipline when carried out in a loving and caring manner.
  • Social services appears to have handled this situation in a "shocking" manner, and they also should be accountable for their actions.
  • Urge social workers to give parents the benefit of the doubt and to respect the religious views of parents.

3. Financial support for the family can be sent to:

Family Legal Defence Fund
P.O. Box 82
Aylmer, ON  N5H 2R8

Contact information for people of influence:

Premier Mike Harris
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON  M7A 1A1
416.325.1941 - Telephone
416.325.3745 - Fax

Hon. John Baird Minister of Community and Social Services (and Minister Responsible for Children) Hepburn Block 6th Floor 80 Grosvenor Street Toronto ON K2H 9C2 416.325.5225 - Telephone 416.325.5221 - Fax

Steve Peters M.P.P. for Elgin-Middlesex-London (Liberal) Room 331 Legislative Building Queen's Park Toronto ON M7A 1A4 416.325.7250 - Telephone 416.325.7262 - Fax

For Ontario members, find the contact information for you local M.P.P. at:

For additional points to consider in this case I have taken the following information from Citizen Impact, an organization actively involved in preserving the rights of the family. These points are not to be construed as OCHEC policy, but are worthy of your consideration.

1. Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that parents or guardians are justified in using force to discipline their children, as long as it does not exceed what is reasonable. Last summer an Ontario Superior Court rejected a challenge to this section of the Criminal Code by children's rights advocates, and found that section 43 did not violate children's rights. Spanking a child is not against the law in Ontario.

2. Many parents use corporal punishment in the raising/disciplining of their children. We are not positioning ourselves to defend the merits of corporal discipline. We will however defend the parent's right and responsibility to determine the best manner to discipline, train, educate, correct and provide guidance for their children. We recognize that physical force must remain reasonable under all circumstances and by no means condone abuse of children.

3. Most Children Aid Societies consider the use of any instrument (ruler, belt, wooden spoon) to spank a child is "unreasonable force" and grounds to remove the child(ren) from their parents. Diane Cresswell, spokesperson for the London Middlesex Children's Aid Society, is quoted in the London Free Press as stating "we believe very strongly that parents don't need to use physical punishment to discipline their children." According to Cresswell, the CAS would like to see spanking outlawed altogether.

4. There is inconsistency between federal legislation and provincial implementation with respect to parental authority to use physical discipline with their children. The definition of acceptable, reasonable force is unclear and is being left to the discretion of case workers and local CAS.

5. It is our opinion that sending in 11 police cruisers with 14 officers to pull the children from the arms of their parents was "unreasonable force". Something must be done to assure this unbridled power has proper checks and balances. Taking children from their parents must happen only in emergency situations. This was not such an emergency. There had to have been a better way to intervene if intervention was required. (2)

6. The burden of proof is on the CAS. The threshold of proof has been lowered to the point that all they are required to prove is that further harm to the children is "likely" if they remain in the custody of their parents. The CAS considers all spanking as harmful and considers the use of any instrument as abusive. Many denominations and parenting groups teach not to use the hand for spanking but for loving and caressing. Anyone who believes the hand should not be used for spanking and uses an instrument is at serious risk of having their children taken from their home.

7. The CAS has a public relations fiasco on their hands. If they return the children because there was no physical evidence of abuse they come across as either making a mistake or as overly aggressive or as incompetent and/or abusive. Holding the children gives the impression they were acting in the best interest of these children. Truth could well be the first casualty in this situation. Please consider this when listening to news releases as this story unfolds. We recognize the very difficult situations CAS workers deal with on a daily basis and the need for the CAS. The stressful situations they deal with daily and the impact the decision to remove a child from a home has on both the children the parents proves the need for a solid review process before any child is removed from their parent(s). See website for update

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