25 CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS The Supreme Court of Canada decision In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada looked at section 43.The Court decided that a parent or guardian who uses force to correct a child can only use it in the following ways: • The person may only use force to correct a child if it will help the child learn.The person can never use force in anger. • The child must be between two-years old and twelve-years old. (This means that section 43 is not a defence if the child is younger than two or older than twelve). • The person can only use reasonable force and its impact can only be “transitory and trifling.” (This means that the force causes little or no pain, and does not leave marks on the child). • The person must not use an object, such as a ruler or belt, to apply the force. • The person must not hit or slap the child’s face or head. • The seriousness of what happened or what the child did is not relevant to how much force is used in discipline. It may be acceptable for a person to use reasonable force to restrain a child in some circumstances. For example, you may need to hold your child down to put them in a car seat. It is not considered reasonable for you to hit a child in anger or to get back at the child for something the child did. It is against the law to hit a child in anger. The use of force when managing children’s behaviour There are times when you may have to use force to control a child and keep the child, or other children, safe. For example, you may need to touch or restrain a child to keep the child from running across the street. Or you may need to carry a screaming three-year old out of a store. Without section 43, parents and caregivers could face criminal charges and might have to go to court to defend their actions whenever they use force to respond to a child’s behaviour. If you are angry, however, find some way to cool down before you manage your child’s behaviour. (continued) (continued) Reproduced from the Department of Justice publication Child Abuse is Wrong: What Can I Do? without affiliation or endorsement of the Government of Canada.