Steven — a pseudonym — didn’t abandon the child. He spent time with her, playing with her in the mother’s home, taking her on brief outings. Last summer, Steven agreed to look after their daughter while the mother spent the night with a friend. Something happened: A fuss was made during a diaper change, and Steven struck the little girl. When she still didn’t comply and she attempted to crawl away, he pinned her on the floor, he says. Red marks were left on her leg, and on her back. While the marks remained visible for several days, she suffered no permanent injury.Steven was arrested and charged with assault causing bodily harm. He spent four nights in the local jail. He’s now on trial in B.C. Provincial Court; a ban on publication prevents disclosure of his identity, and the names of the mother and child. Steven is anxious, worried that he’ll receive a prison sentence or be deported from Canada. He’s also bewildered: He insists that his relationships with the mother and his daughter are fine, and that no harm was done.
Had he applied reasonable, corrective force as a parent, as Canadian law allows? Others — the RCMP, and the Crown — say he went too far in his attempts to subdue his little girl. Judge Stella Frame must decide.
Thoughts? Is spanking acceptable? If so, how much?
If not, is a legal proscription the best way to go? Further, if spanking should be illegal, is it okay to punish someone even though, right now, it isn’t illegal*?
Finally, wouldn’t a plain reading of the Criminal Code demand that this man be prosecuted?
*Note: Spanking is currently legal, but with numerous restrictions. It doesn’t seem that this man violated any of the objective distinctions (he used his hand; the child is older than two, but younger than twelve; he didn’t hit her in the head).