National Child Day 2023

Children’s Rights are Human Rights.

But children are vulnerable and adults can abuse children’s rights, often without consequences.

On November 20, National Child Day 2023, we can see so many examples where adult rights take precedence over the rights of children. We look to the wars in Ukraine, and Gaza/Israel. But children’s rights are trampled right here in Canada, in the systems built to serve them

Two years ago, I (and others) disclosed to the Yukon Department of Education, and then to the RCMP, the assault (inappropriate use of restraints) and illegal confinement (seclusion) of children in a public school in the Yukon Territory. This practice was condoned for decades as a method to control and discipline vulnerable children without the knowledge of their families. While the RCMP recently announced the conclusion of their investigation, the victims of abuse continue to await any action based on the findings.

Violence can never be used as a method of discipline.

Several weeks ago, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory ruled that indeed a Class Action could proceed on behalf of the victims of abuse at Jack Hulland Elementary School.

How is it possible for child abuse to be condoned as a disciplinary tactic for so many years? This is a question I continue to ask myself. For so many of us, the restraint and seclusion of children is so appalling that we refuse to believe it could happen in Canada in this decade. Yet for others, they only see bad kids from bad families, and rise to their personal mission of teaching “those kids” a lesson.

Similarly, in Tennessee, children were jailed, secluded, and had their rights violated illegally for many years. The abuse had long-lasting life-altering consequences for the victims, but almost no consequences for the perpetrators. A judge, with the overwhelming support of privileged community members, openly violated the law with impunity for many years. She openly stated that she was doing good for the community by using harsh (traumatizing) methods on those kids who came from families where kids were not taught “proper behaviour”.

It’s worth your time to listen to this incredible story, The Kids From Rutherford County.

In 1991, Canada signed the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Article 19 states that children have the right to protection from being hurt or mistreated in body or mind. However, the Criminal Code of Canada still allows parents and teachers to use force on children for the purpose of “correction”.

In Canada, assaulting children is legal, if the harm is inflicted by a parent or teacher.

It’s time to join the 71 other countries in the world where corporal punishment is banned.

On this day, let’s reflect on the TRC Call to Action #6: Repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Section 43 allows for the legal assault of children by parents and teachers, contrary to the basic rights of children. Dr. Stan Kutcher is leading the Repeal of Section 43 (Bill S-251) in the Canadian Senate. Take a moment today to write to a Senator (find a list of those studying this bill here), or your MP, and tell them that you will not tolerate the violation of children’s rights to “protection from being hurt or mistreated, in body or mind”. (Article 19, and here in child-friendly language).

Peter Julian, MP, is also seeking support for the Private Member’s Bill C-273An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Corinne’s Quest and the protection of children). C-273 calls for the repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code that permits physical punishment of children in Canada:

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, Correction of child by force, every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

Adults must stand up to protect the rights of children when they are being violated. It’s time to end legalized assault in Canada.

Are you, or is your child, a victim of the inappropriate use of restraints, or the seclusion in isolation cells at Jack Hulland Elementary? Contact Tucker Carruthers for further information here:


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

The Current CBC – Like a Caged Animal (podcast)

Featured image by Donna Miller Fry, April 2023.

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