The Kids of Jack Hulland Elementary – Repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code (NDP Bill C-273)

Warning: This multi-part series deals with the physical abuse of vulnerable children in the public school system. If you or someone you love is experiencing trauma-related symptoms from physical abuse, please seek help. Resources in Canada can be found here: For children, Kids Help Phone: Call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868.

‘It’s not OK to hurt children’

“For as long as there is ambiguity around the use of force against children … we will continue, sadly, to hear of these incidents and allegations, and many of these allegations will be horrific.” Peter Julian

In 2022, Bill C-273, a Private Members’ Bill to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada (above) passed First Reading in the Canadian House of Commons. The “Spanking Law” as it is more commonly known as, provides protection from criminal prosecution for parents and teachers who use physical assault on children as a method of discipline.

Repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada is Call to Action 6, the first Education Call to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2015, the Federal Government committed to repealing Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. To date that has not happened. How many children continue to be deeply harmed at the hands of caregivers and educators as a result of this delay?

In 2004, the Senate human rights committee recommended a full repeal of Section 43 (which first became law in 1892). Instead, the Supreme Court of Canada narrowed the list of those who can still hurt children with impunity and redefined “reasonable force”. We’ll dig deeper into this in a future post.

In December 2022, Peter Julian, Kate White (Yukon NDP Leader) and I held a news conference where we spoke about how the use of seclusion (putting children in isolation without supervision for hours) and restraints (sometimes for several hours) could clearly not happen to children if Call to Action 6 were honoured and Section 43 of the Criminal Code was repealed.

Across the world, countries have taken action to uphold the rights of children and outlaw corporal punishment entirely.

It’s time for Canada to end the legal assault of children.

Would you like to help? Please write your MP and demand that they support the Repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada by showing their support for Bill C-273. You can read the support so far here:

Featured image by John Doyle on Unsplash


Federal, Yukon NDP renew call to ban use of force on kids following allegations at Whitehorse school

NDP calls on Liberals to outlaw the physical punishment of children in Canada

NDP and Yukon NDP Urge the Federal Government to Repeal Section 43 of Criminal Code

NDP urges House of Commons to pass bill banning spanking, physical punishment of children

NDP MP says Jack Hulland Elementary accusations show need for Criminal Code change Private members bill would make corporal punishment of children illegal

Canada ‘a laggard’ on physical punishment debate: NDP MP

No more spankings: NDP pushing to outlaw physically punishing kids

The “Spanking” Law: Section 43 of the Criminal Code

Bill S-251 with Senator Stan Kutcher

The Kids of Jack Hulland Elementary

  1. Introduction
  2. Timeline Part 1 (Class Action Lawsuit)
  3. Timeline Part 2 (RCMP)
  4. Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada
  5. The Statement of Claim
  6. The Yukon Child and Youth Advocate’s Office
  7. The [Missing] Kids of Jack Hulland Elementary
  8. Week 1 Summary
  9. The Federal NDP Attempt to Repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada (Bill C-273)
  10. UPDATE: Bill C-273
  11. UPDATE: Supreme Court of Yukon Decision March 27, 2024
  12. UPDATE: Yukon Child and Youth Advocate’s Office PODCAST
  13. No Pain, No Shame, No Blame (American Academy of Paediatrics)
  14. Senator Stan Kutcher and Bill S-251 to Repeal Section 43
  15. Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 6
  16. The Rights of Children
  17. The Public Education System in the Yukon
  18. Ronald Morrish – Discipline that Harms
  19. Ethical Practice and the Teaching Profession
  20. Recap and FAQ
  21. Childhood Trauma – ACES
  22. The long-term impact of physical abuse of children
  23. What we know about corporal punishment of children

Who I Am: My name is Donna Miller Fry. I was Superintendent of Schools in Whitehorse, Yukon when I became aware that prior to my arrival, children at Jack Hulland Elementary School were being restrained and secluded as a method of discipline – for years. I (and others) reported this to the RCMP on November 29, 2021. Since then, the Department of Education has admitted the inappropriate use of restraints and seclusion. The victims have resorted to legal action to obtain professional support in addressing the impacts of trauma. This can never happen again in the public school system. By telling this story, I hope to empower education leaders to ensure vulnerable children are never again the victims of abuse in the very place that should be dedicated to their flourishing.

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