Joan E. Durrant
Joan E. Durrant
As a country recognised for its progress on human rights issues, Canada is an international anomaly with regard to the rights of the child. Since 1989, 16 Private Members’ Bills introduced in the House of Commons or Senate to end the legal justification of corporal punishment have failed. In 1999, a formal challenge to the law was initiated on the basis of rights enshrined in Canada’s Constitution (Government of Canada, 1982) and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (crc) (1989). The challenge failed at every level of the courts, up to and including the Supreme Court. This chapter outlines the history of the Canadian law and identifies the major obstacles to reform.
Joan E. Durrant and Ashley Stewart-Tufescu
While the word “discipline” has come to connote control, punishment and obedience, its historic roots are in notions of learning, understanding and gaining knowledge. We trace concepts of discipline through time – from extreme violence to behaviourism to constructivism to relational neuroscience – and arrive at a reframing of discipline as a process of optimising children’s understanding and fostering their evolving capacities to actualise their rights. Drawing on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we set out a framework for rights-based discipline that is founded on five principles: (1) non-violence; (2) respect for children’s evolving capacities; (3) respect for children’s individuality; (4) engagement of children’s participation; and (5) respect for children’s dignity. We provide examples of evidence-based approaches that implement these principles. Finally, we call for the reclaiming and restoration of the true meaning of “discipline” in order that all children may thrive.