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American Academy of Pediatrics Updated Policy on Spanking

November 05, 2018

Aaron Cooper, Ph.D., Director of Child, Adolescent and Family Services at The Family Institute, commented on the revised policy on spanking announced by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Read the article in USA Today

Top pediatricians group strengthens call to ban spanking, saying it ‘harms children’

By Brett Molina
November 5, 2018

The country’s top pediatricians group is bolstering its push to ban spanking, saying the controversial practice “harms children.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics said it will submit an updated policy statement during its annual conference in Orlando that finds spanking is ineffective for disciplining children and notes new studies claiming spanking can impact brain development.

“The good news is fewer parents support the use of spanking than they did in the past,” said Dr. Robert D. Sege, an author on the revised policy and past member of the group’s Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, in a statement.

“Yet corporal punishment remains legal in many states, despite evidence that it harms kids — not only physically and mentally, but in how they perform at school and how they interact with other children.”

The updated statement was published online Monday and will appear in the December journal Pediatrics.

The AAP cites research claiming corporal punishment or harsh verbal abuse not only won’t change behavior over the long term, but can make children more aggressive.

The group urges parents to create disciplinary plans where they stay in control. Meanwhile, they recommend pediatricians help parents with age-appropriate plans for disciplining kids, including advising them of community groups offering assistance.

“It’s best to begin with the premise of rewarding positive behavior,” said Dr. Benjamin S. Siegel, a co-author of the revised policy and fellow of the AAP, in a statement.

“Parents can set up rules and expectations in advance. The key is to be consistent in following through with them.”

Several studies have shown adverse affects for children who are spanked. A study published last year in the “Journal of Pediatrics” found spanked children were more likely to commit dating violence later in life.

separate study published last month in BMJ Open found countries banning corporal punishment experienced significantly lower rates of physical violence among adolescents.

2015 survey from Pew Research Center found only four percent of Americans spank their kids often as a form of discipline, while one in six parents say they use spanking some of the time. 

Aaron Cooper, Ph.D., director of Child, Adolescent and Family Services at The Family Institute at Northwestern University said the revised policy from AAP could help parents who choose to spank their kids consider other options.

“Few parents want to think of themselves as damaged, whether as a result of being spanked or anything else our parents did to us,” said Cooper in an email to USA TODAY. “To give up spanking, we need to recognize its potential to harm.”