Pediatricians group strengthens recommendation against spanking

Maricruz Casares
Noviembre 7, 2018

The policy statement describes corporal punishment as "noninjurious, open-handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior" and indicates that spanking is considered a form of such physical punishment.

Parents who hit their kids may believe that a swat "just gets their attention" or imposes old-fashioned discipline, but spanking in fact makes behavior worse than it was before and can cause long-term harm, pediatricians said Monday.

Since research shows only a correlational relationship, some question whether children who are more aggressive or misbehave more are subsequently spanked more - and could that be why corporal punishment has been linked with higher levels of behavioral problems among children?

The organisation is instead recommending that adults should reinforce appropriate behaviours, set limits, redirect children and set expectations.

"In the 20 years since that policy was first published, there's been a great deal of additional research", he told CNN, "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".

On Monday, the AAP published a new policy statement saying that parents "should not use corporal punishment (including hitting and spanking), either in anger or as a punishment for or effect of misbehavior, nor should they use any disciplinary strategy, including verbal abuse, that causes shame or humiliation".

The American Academy of Pediatrics is coming out strongly against the use of spanking, calling for a ban on corporal punishment.

It's been two decades since the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an official stance about discipline, and in that time, the group's opinion has changed quite a bit.

It says spanking is falling out of favor among parents, especially those with young children.

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A 2017 poll from ABC News found that 65 percent of Americans approve of spanking a child, although 67 percent agree that it shouldn't be school teachers doing the spanking. "We can do better".

"The effects of corporal punishment were transient: within 10 minutes, most children (73 percent) had resumed the same behavior for which they had been punished".

That held even when parents were otherwise warm and loving.

"Second, use positive reinforcement to increase the behavior you want from your child". "Parents who suffer from depression tended to use corporal punishment more frequently".

However, there is new research to suggests that spanking makes children aggressive and can lead to mental health problems.

"Discipline older children by temporarily removing favorite privileges, such as sports activities or playing with friends". Teenagers in countries with a full corporal punishment ban are less likely to engage in fistfights. Sege said there are other forms of discipline that parents can employ, no matter their child's age.

Corporal punishment is harmful and ineffective, America's peak pediatrics group said in its updated guidelines.

"Positive reinforcement for alternative behaviors is extremely effective", it says.

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