Salmon Arm parents convicted for spanking

Two Salmon Arm parents have been convicted of assault with a weapon after spanking their 14-year-old daughter — one with a mini-hockey stick, the other a skipping rope — after learning she sent nude photos on the mobile app Snapchat.

The accused cannot be named to protect the identity of their daughter.

On Valentine’s Day 2015, the father seized his daughter’s cellphone after she renewed acquaintances with a young man her family did not like.

Reading through his daughter’s text messages, the father found references to nude photos being sent on the Snapchat app.

He confronted his daughter and offered her two options for punishment — be grounded for an extended period or be spanked.

She chose the latter and the father took her to the garage of the home, where he used an 18-inch plastic mini-hockey stick to spank his daughter two or three times on the buttocks, over top of her pyjama bottoms.

A short time later, the girl’s mother returned home and struck her daughter two or three times on the buttocks with a skipping rope.

While administering the spankings, both mother and father told their daughter they were punishing her out of love, not hate.

“The child understood that her parents’s beliefs about discipline came from their adherence to the Bible, which they believe advocates the use of the ‘rod’ to spank, rather than the hands, as hands are to be used as instruments of love,” Salmon Arm provincial court Judge Edmond de Walle said in his ruling.

On Feb. 16, 2015, the girl told two friends at school about the spankings and showed them the her buttocks.

De Walle noted one friend noticed they were red and swollen and covered in purple and green bruises, while the other friend saw red and purple marks.

The friends then told the school principal, who then called the Ministry of Children and Family and a police investigation began.

A trial took place in November and a ruling was released this week.

In the ruling, de Walle said the spankings were not reasonable and convicted both parents. They are due back in court for sentencing on March 4.

De Walle noted section 34 of the Criminal Code of Canada allows a parent to use force “by way of correction,” noting the force must be intended for educative or corrective purposes.

“It is my finding that the force applied to the child was clearly not intended for  educative or corrective purposes,” de Walle wrote.

“The father testified that his purpose in spanking the daughter was for punishment. He was unable to articulate any other purpose for the spanking.”

The judge noted the Supreme Court of Canada has concluded the spanking exemption in the criminal code does not apply to corporal punishment of children under two or teenagers, based on current expert consensus.

In addition, Canada’s top court has concluded that “only minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature” can be exempted from criminal sanction.

“The parents took no educative or corrective steps by seeking out expert help or any other assistance to discuss their daughter’s actions with her,” de Walle wrote.

“Their actions were solely punitive and not corrective. In my view, the actions of the parents were also degrading.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to adopt all recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

One of those recommendations calls for removal the section of the Criminal Code that allows spanking, or corporal punishment, within strict limits.

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