An Open Letter To Our Canadian Government - Where Are Children’s Rights? | Unpublished

Warning message

  • Last import of users from Drupal Production environment ran more than 7 days ago. Import users by accessing /admin/config/live-importer/drupal-run
  • Last import of nodes from Drupal Production environment ran more than 7 days ago. Import nodes by accessing /admin/config/live-importer/drupal-run

Unpublished Opinions

Melanie Campbell Surviving And Thriving Women's picture
Cochrane, Alberta
About the author

I am a mom, a step mom , a wife, and a human mom to two beautiful German Shepherds. I support parental equality, human rights (children's rights). I believe through gentle respectful parenting we can raise confident, secure, well adjusted young adults. I don't believe in perfection, I am not the perfect wife, or believe I have the perfect children or family. But what I do believe in is progress, and when we know better we do better.   

Like it

An Open Letter To Our Canadian Government - Where Are Children’s Rights?

January 2, 2016

It is my dream to see society shift their parenting views and work towards gentle respectful parenting. Isn't it time to break the cycle of broken children?

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I am no expert, and I certainly realize I have zero authority or influence, when it comes to changing the laws of human rights. As a Canadian citizen, I am very proud. I recognize the greatness of our beautiful multi cultural country. I also recognize how lucky and fortunate we are to live in one of the world's safest, cleanest countries on the planet. 

I know our country isn't perfect, there is no such thing as the perfect country. But I would like to think Canada, is a runner up for one of the best Countries to live in. One of the many wonderful opportunities in our country is the right to Freedom of Speech.

Today I would like to exercise that right and share my concerns with you and with the public.

Mr Prime Minster, I am going to get right to the point, I strongly believe that it is morally wrong and a violation of human rights, that parents can deliberately inflict pain, to the extent that if that same pain was inflicted on a human being by another it would justify prosecution, at the very least an assault charge.

Mr. Prime Minister isn’t it time to right this wrong? 

Shouldn't children recieve the same legal protection and human rights as adults?

I am just a parent, like you, who wants what is best for our children. I’m not the perfect mother, or the perfect wife. I don’t have the perfect children, or the perfect husband, or the perfect life for that matter.

I don't believe in perfection, I never have, but what I do believe in is progress and change.

“When we know better, we do better.”

We all at some point in our lives have regrets, and do the best we can in raising our children. Contrary to what some people may think, I don’t believe there is such a thing as bratty kids, little monsters, or spoiled rotten children. There is only a world full of disconnected, stressed, frustrated, worried, unsure, insecure, scared, upset, sad, angry and overwhelmed little people.

At any age, we all feel negative emotions, and at different ages throughout our lives we evolve, mature and find better ways to express our negative emotions. When we get angry or frustrated as adults, most of us have healthy tools to cope with our feelings and find positive channels for releasing those negative emotions. Some of us burn off some steam after a stressful day at work by going for a run, or to a kick boxing class. Some of us feel better after a long and exhausting day, by relaxing in the bath and reading our favorite novel. Majority of us don’t get stuck in those bad or off feelings for long, or become labeled by society as “bad” people for having these off feelings. As adults we can relate to one another over a latte at our favorite coffee shop, as we express our frustrations with our day to day stress of work and personal life balance. As adults most of us have developed the communication skills to work through our negative emotions.

If only society could remember this, then we could all encourage ourselves to not label our children as “bad” for their off or less than desired behaviour.

Instead we can offer our children opportunities on how to connect to their true selves and help them be the little confident people they desire to be. Teaching our children how to cope, with various techniques like breathing, relaxing and laughing, eventually enables them to securely develop and master these tools with confidence. As they get older their meltdowns, tantrums, and off times quickly pass and we can recognize them for Who They Really Are, amazing beautiful little independent human beings, extensions of ourselves.

We all feel negative emotions sometimes.

We cant simply go around hitting or attacking others when we get mad, for there are laws in place to protect us from violence. You hit another human being, you are charged with assault. As an adult “You” are bigger, stronger, and suppose to be smarter. You hit, spank, or smack a child, it is also assault. We are the adults, meant to keep our children safe, not harm them.

Our children can often feel it’s wrong to feel mad or upset and yet it’s about what we do when we are in a negative space and the tools we use to feel better that can be past down to them. Shifting focus to feel better, finding things we appreciate, getting rid of anger in creative ways such as going for a run or dancing to music all shift us to feeling better. We do our children no favors to ask them to suppress how they feel. Rather we can bring their awareness to it and help them feel more themselves by encouraging them to choose what they think about. We can teach them how to channel their negative feelings, by doing healthy things, like painting, drawing, moving to music, walking with nature, chasing butterflies, jumping in puddles, or making snowmen outside.

As a parent we love our children deeply. They are an innocent and vulnerable extension of ourselves. We do everything in our power to protect them from any harm. We encourage them, we support them, and provide them with all the tools they need to be successful and thrive in their future relationship’s, education, career and life. We are meant to nurture them, it is one of our primary purpose’s in life as a parent, to make our children always feel safe.

We know the older they get, the more independent they become, as we can’t protect them forever. We do our best to not hover over them, allowing them to explore the world around them. If we want our children to thrive, we must allow them space and independence to be creative and adventurous without interrupting them from child led play. We must allow them to make mistakes without harsh punishment, and offer guidance, and lead by example in offering them solutions and tools by connecting with them.

Our little human beings are the most vulnerable members of society yet in a number of countries, they are the only group which can be legally assaulted.  

Mr. Prime Minsiter how is that even possible? How is this even considered tolerated?Children are the only class that is unprotected. This is not right, ‘children need more protection and not less.

Mr. Prime Minister did you  know that the Council of Europe – which monitors compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights – ruled in 1998 that smacking violated children’s rights against cruel and degrading treatment.

Hitting, spanking, smacking is abuse. Any form of violence is abuse.

A hundred years ago ‘it was considered a novel idea for the law to say you couldn’t hit your wife. Today if a spouse hits their spouse it is a domestic abuse charge, and the abuser is prosecuted. Thankfully there are laws in place to protect victims of domestic abuse.

Every parent has their own challenges, and I never judge another parent because I don’t know what that parent is struggling with when it comes to parenting. Yet I will not deny, I cringe every time I see a parent smack, hit, or spank their child. Too often I want to rescue that child, yet I turn away in utter anguish, feeling as helpless as the child being hit or publicly shamed. I can’t imagine how afraid, embarrassed and vulnerable that child feels. What makes me feel even more sad is that there is nothing I can do to protect someone else’s child from being harmed, because there are no laws in place that makes it illegal to spank or shame your child.

Our children can find life so overwhelming, perhaps the grocery store is hyper stimulating to your 2 year old toddler the only way he can communicate to you that he is feeling burdened by the over load of stimulation is by having a complete meltdown just as you finally arrive in line to pay for your groceries. Often tantrums, moodiness or angry outbursts are simply a plea for quiet in their own minds and hearts. When we can offer them a space to breathe, teach them simply meditation techniques like looking at a candle, finding a quiet spot, focused breathing, calming music and focused thought techniques we offer them a time to become spiritually aware within themselves.

It painfully blows my mind, it’s 2015, soon to be 2016, and with all the research, and evidence based reports of how damaging spanking/hitting is to children, there is still no governed law that can prevent a parent from smacking or spanking their child. Every time I witness a mother smack her son’s face, or a father spank his daughter’s behind, I wish “if only” we had laws in place to protect those children.

Mr. Prime Minister,  as parents, we have options in how we discipline our children, we can choose to ignore their human rights, and inflict pain, or we can offer loving examples of hugs, shared laughs and connection.  We need laws in place that can protect the young and vulnerable. We need to do our best to ensure all children grow up free from violence. Our children's future depends on it, our countries future depends on it. We need to break the cycle of broken children. It can be done, but only you Mr. Prime Minister and our Government can make those changes by banning spanking. 

Unfortunately, many parents feel the only method of discipline is to resort to striking, hitting, spanking, or smacking their children. The only true and existing mechanisms to catch abusive parents are entrenched in most societies; child abuse claims are often the result of third-party observers, often teachers, calling the police or child services.

Mr. Prime Minister, would it be so outrageous if our Government had a legal system in place that would be expected to play a greater role in our society with a ban on smacking, hitting, or spanking? What if there were “guidelines” of penalities depending on the nature of the offense.

For example, the initial penalties to a parent would be financial only, to ensure that parents are not taken away from their children only if they have proven themselves to not be “repeat” offenders. This charge would only be if the child is under 18 years of age. Parents who feel that smacking, hitting, or spanking is an appropriate tool of discipline ‘have to give up the privilege to physically discipline their children for the sake of protecting children that aren’t being hit once in a blue moon or in a light way, but are really being hit day after day, many times a day’.

Mr. Prime Minister, only an outright ban on smacking, spanking, and hitting will enhance child protection.

I find it very interesting and a valuable learning lesson, that the number of children reporting being beaten to the point of bruising in Germany has declined from 3 in 10 to 3 in 100 since 1992 after a ban was introduced in Germany. A culture that tolerates smacking, hitting or spanking,  makes it easier to conceal graver abuse. Frequently, incidents of abuse reported by children are not investigated, or the cases abandoned as the abuse is written off as a case of “legitimate punishment”.

A total ban enables child protection workers to give the parents of children at risk of abuse a clear message that no level of corporal punishment is acceptable. Child protection workers can provide parenting assistance, support, tools, education and parenting classes can all be offered to “help” work and “support” the parent and encourage alternative forms of discipline.

When we know better we do better, and from one generation to the next we can work towards breaking the cycle of abuse/violence against children.

By offering parents the tools to find this balance we give them a sense of wholeness and the ability to shift perspectives in their lives.

With a ban enforced in Canada, a parent who still continues to smack/spank/hit their child would no longer be able to hide behind the defense of “reasonable chastisement”. In European countries with a longstanding smacking, hitting ban, there has been an increase in the early detection of children at risk, and a decrease in the proportion of parents who are subsequently prosecuted.

People justify in their minds that spanking, hitting or smacking, is ok, however occasional, is still harmful to children.

What many parents don’t know about spanking or smacking, aside from causing physical pain, there are lasting psychological effects. It is widely recognized that smacking undermines children’s confidence, weakens their emotional relationships and encourages the use of violence to resolve disputes with siblings and classmates. The experience of childhood smacking has even been linked with an increased risk of alcoholism, depression, anxiety, masochistic fantasy and suicidal ideation in adult life.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that the countries protect children from “all forms of physical and mental violence”. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, its international monitoring body for the Convention, emphasizes that even physical punishment within the family is not compatible with full implementation, and has formally recommended prohibition to the UK and other countries. In 1999 the European Court of Human Rights found that the beating by a father of his stepson constituted “inhuman or degrading punishment”.

Mr Prime Minister the law in Canada and the US along with other countries that tolerate smacking, spanking or hitting,  should be brought into line with European law to ensure the respect of basic human rights.

Smacking, hitting or spanking is harmful to society as normative forms of violence spill over into criminal forms. As corporal punishment is a significant factor in the development of violent behaviour in childhood and later life, an outright ban would help measures to reduce violence and crime. Banning smacking would also help to promote the concept of zero tolerance of violence between all family members and thus reduce all forms of domestic violence, as well as reducing bullying between children.

It is my opinion as a human being, as a mother, and as an adult who has the power to do what we can to protect children's rights, that a strong, consistent message needs to be applied, starting with a total ban of smacking, spanking, hitting.

Mr. Prime Minister please help in breaking the cycle of broken children. I've learned a lot thus far in being a parent, and I am looking forward to learning more. I have learned that life isn’t about getting it right or getting it done perfectly or even on time for that matter. Life is the exciting prospect that we are forever growing and changing. As a family, as a community and as a country, together we should all have the desire to do better and in that desire we can collectively grow, and become aware and committed more fully to the choice of raising the next generation of healthy happy, secure, confident, young adults. Let’s change society for the better, by shifting our parenting views towards respectful gentle parenting.

Stop Hitting, Stop Shaming, Stop Abuse.


Most Sincerely,

Melanie Campbell

Alberta, Canada