Something to Cry About
An Argument against Corporal Punishment of Children in Canada
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$42.95 Paper, 338 pp.
Why does our society think it is okay to hit children?
Almost everyone thinks it is wrong to abuse a child. But many parents and teachers believe it is okay to spank children, rap their knuckles, slap their faces, pull their hair and yank their arms, as long as the punishment does not result in serious injury or death, and is intended to improve a child’s behaviour. Susan M. Turner explores the historical, psychological, sociological and legal foundations of this belief from a philosophical perspective and argues why it should be abandoned.
Something to Cry About presents evidence from recent studies showing that all forms of corporal punishment pose significant risks for children and that none improves behaviour in the long term. Dr. Turner also examines Section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Code — a law that protects those who punish children in their care by allowing them to hit the children as long as such punishment is “reasonable,” even though Canadian case law shows that “reasonable” has included breaking a child’s fingers. Turner presents a comprehensive argument in favour of repeal.
In Something to Cry About, Turner takes a definite stand, but does so in a way that invites critical dialogue. Her work is the first to set out the debate over corporal punishment in multidisciplinary terms pertinent to Canadian society. She brings together in one place a wide variety of thought and data which can be consulted by all Canadians concerned with the welfare of children.
Susan M. Turner, a single parent of three children, entered graduate school in 1989, received her master’s degree in 1991 and her doctorate in 1995. Since 1996, she has worked in Victoria as a university instructor and tutor.
“An excellent and much-needed analysis of the philosophical arguments for and against corporal punishment of children.”
— Corinne Robertshaw, founder and coordinator of the Repeal 43 Committee
“The Supreme Court of Canada recently upheld a century-old law that allows parents, teachers and caregivers to spank children. For that reason, Something to Cry About takes on a whole new meaning. Well researched, the book documents evidence on the effects of spanking and other forms of corporal punishment on children....The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision goes against everything Turner has uncovered. It’s a decision that all citizens should be up in arms about. Write to your member of parliament and voice your opinion — on behalf of those too tiny to do so themselves. In doing so, suggest they pick up a copy of Turner’s book. When they read it, they’ll be as outraged as you are.”
— Danette Dooley, Herizons
“Susan Turner’s Something to Cry About makes a compelling case—philosophical, moral, legal and empirical—for securing the right of all children to be free from the pains and harms arising from the practice of spanking and other forms of corporal punishments. The book will transform the ways in which Canadians think and act with respect to the tradition of assaulting children in the guise of discipline and will hasten the end of this practice through legislation and other legal means. Something to Cry About will have an enduring impact upon future generations by encouraging this generation to act decisively to end the practice of corporal punishment of children.”
— Philip Greven, Rutgers University