New Policy Recommends Abolishment of Spanking

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new policy statement on spanking that was last updated two decades ago.

The report titled “Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children” concludes with the recommendation that “adults caring for children use healthy forms of discipline, such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations. The AAP recommends that parents do not use spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating, or shaming.”

The previous policy from 1998 encouraged parents to develop other disciplinary measures than spanking but stopped short of officially recommending the abolishment of spanking.

"In the 20 years since that policy was first published, there's been a great deal of additional research, and we're now much stronger in saying that parents should never hit their child and never use verbal insults that would humiliate or shame the child," Dr. Robert Sege told CNN. "This is much stronger than the previous advice. The new policy encourages pediatricians to discuss the data about different kinds of discipline with parents so, of course, they can make their own decisions in how they chose to raise their children."

As evidence of the ineffectiveness of spanking, the AAP cited a 2014 study, where 73% of children resumed the same behavior for which they had been punished within 10 minutes of the punishment. In addition to often not resulting in the desired outcome, spanking also tends to lead to adverse outcomes, such as increased child aggressiveness and a decline in the parent-child relationship.

For more on this controversial topic, check out these practical spanking dos and don’ts that we published in 2008.

What do you think? Should parents spank their children? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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