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Child and Youth Advocates Reflect on 30 Years of Children’s Rights in Canada

DECEMBER 13, 2021 (Saskatoon):


December 13, 2021 marks 30 years since Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This legally-binding human rights treaty sets out 42 protection, promotion and participation rights for young persons under 18.


“As a signatory, Canada made a commitment to Canadian children that their unique rights would be at the fore of all public policy. This means acting in their best interests, protecting them from harm, giving them a voice about matters that affect them, and providing them with what is needed to grow to their full potential,” said Dr. Lisa Broda, President of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) and Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth.


In the most recent UNICEF Report Card, issued in 2020, Canada was ranked 30th among 38 wealthy countries in relation to the overall well-being of children and youth under 18. “It is stunning to see that although Canada’s economic, environmental and social conditions are strong, we have such abysmal outcomes for child well-being,” stated Broda.


“We just don’t place a high enough value on young people. This is reflected in antiquated systems and laws that fail to protect children from their right to bodily integrity and the right to be safe from physical harm,” Broda noted.


One example of this is section 43 of the Criminal Code which legally permits corporal punishment of children and has been used to defend assault of children for the purpose of corrective discipline. While there are limits on the force that can be used, legal interpretation and application of these limits have been inconsistent, resulting in children not being afforded the same protections against violence that are taken for granted by adults.


“Parenting practices, as well as our understanding of their impacts, have changed over time. Section 43 goes against the solid body of research demonstrating the immediate and long-term harms that corporal punishment imposes on children, and on society generally. It must be repealed,” said Broda.

The need to protect children and youth from physical violence becomes even more urgent as the COVID 19 pandemic persists and families are under increased stress – conditions which have resulted in increased violence against children. “63 countries have ended the practice of corporal punishment as condoned by law, and as a nation the CCCYA encourages everyone to raise their voices and calls upon Canada to finally repeal section 43,” said Broda.


The need to protect children and youth from physical violence becomes even more urgent as the COVID 19 pandemic persists and families are under increased stress – conditions which have resulted in increased violence against children. “63 countries have ended the practice of corporal punishment as condoned by law, and as a nation the CCCYA encourages everyone to raise their voices and calls upon Canada to finally repeal section 43,” said Broda.


The need to protect children and youth from physical violence becomes even more urgent as the COVID 19 pandemic persists and families are under increased stress – conditions which have resulted in increased violence against children. “63 countries have ended the practice of corporal punishment as condoned by law, and as a nation the CCCYA encourages everyone to raise their voices and calls upon Canada to finally repeal section 43,” said Broda.


About the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates:


The CCCYA is an association of children's Advocates, Representatives and Ombudspersons from across Canada who are independent officers of the legislatures in their respective jurisdictions with mandates to promote and protect children’s human rights through complaint resolution, advice to government, amplification of child and youth voices, and public education. The work of CCCYA members is grounded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Members work together to identify areas of mutual concern and address national issues.