Ontario English Catholic Teachers

Spanking Law Upheld


In light of the Supreme Court’s decision reaffirming Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which is sometimes referred to as the “Spanking Law,” OECTA members and Unit Presidents have requested an update on OECTA’s advice regarding allegations of physical assault.


The Court's decision does not change the advice we have given in the past. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the legal defense of parents and teachers in criminal trials to use reasonable force for the purpose of correction of a pupil or child. Had the Supreme Court not reaffirmed this section, members would have been without this defense at criminal trials.


Members are strongly cautioned to avoid touching students unless it is absolutely necessary. Section 43 can prevent criminal convictions for teachers when it is proven that the use of physical force was necessary.

For example:

  • Protecting students or teachers when fights break out at school including restraining students, if necessary;
  • Escorting an uncooperative student to the principal’s office;
  • Removing a disruptive student who refuses to leave the classroom or the school itself; Placing a young student on the bus, in a situation where the student has been on a field trip and refuses to return to the bus;
  • Restraining a cognitively impaired student, and intervening in a potentially disruptive situation to prevent escalation into something more dangerous. Physical contact should be used as a last resort or to prevent imminent serious or dangerous situations. Teachers must provide proof of other efforts used prior to physical contact.

In today’s litigious society teachers must be aware of their actions. If questioned, contact OECTA’s Provincial Office before making statements that may result in police, CAS or College of Teachers complaints. Even though a member may not be convicted, getting advice early can help minimize trauma experienced during an investigation.