Families and Couples

Can Your Parents Use Physical Force to Discipline You?


Do your parents punish you? Do they stop you from seeing your friends, going to the movies or using the computer? Are they allowed to punish you in this way? How far can they go? Are they allowed to punish you physically?

Your parents have a duty to educate and take care of you until you’re 18. This is called “parental authority”.

They’re allowed to punish you as part of their duty to protect and educate you. But how far can your parents go when punishing you?

Can Your Parents Use Physical Force to Discipline You?

The law says that your parents can use force to discipline you, but it has to be reasonable in the circumstances.

The Supreme Court of Canada, which is the highest court in the country, explained what is reasonable when parents use force to discipline their children.

The use of force is reasonable if it’s used to discipline you, and you’re able to understand the punishment. Your age, sex, state of health and the physical and psychological effects of the punishment are all taken into account when deciding whether the force used is reasonable.

These punishments are never allowed in Canada, no matter what the circumstances:

  • punishment using objects such as rulers or belts
  • punishment that causes injury
  • slaps or punches to the head
  • inhuman or degrading punishment
  • physical punishment of a child under two
  • physical punishment of a teenager

These rules also apply to teachers and anyone replacing your parents or caring for you.

The limits on a teacher are even stricter. A teacher can’t punish you physically. A teacher is allowed to use reasonable force to restrain you or remove you from the classroom, but only when necessary and only under specific conditions.

Have You Been Abused or Have You Seen Someone Else Being Abused?

Important! You’re protected against physical, sexual and psychological abuse. The Director of Youth Protection (DYP) can become involved if your development or safety is at risk. If you’re a victim of violence or have witnessed it, talk to people you trust.

You can contact the Youth Centre in your area, where the DYPs work.

You can also call to speak to someone at these organizations: