The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now stands even stronger against the use of corporal punishment (spanking) and verbal shaming as useful disciplinary measurements. In an update to their Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children Policy, which comes form the Council on Child Abuse and Neglect and the Committee on Psychological Aspects of Child and Family Health, the AAP suggests caregivers and parents use other effective strategies of discipline.
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The Academy's stance is a summarization of new evidence about spanking that's been found since the 1998 clinical report on effective discipline. That report discouraged the use of corporal punishment, but this latest update strongly recommends the abolition of corporal punishment by parents and adult caregivers.
As new research comes out about the adverse effects of corporal punishment, pediatricians are less likely to recommend the continued use of spanking as a disciplinary measure. The updated policy defines corporal punishment as "non-injurious, open-handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior."
The Academy distinguishes between corporal punishment and child abuse, but does cite the cycle of escalating behavior coming from spanking possibly leading to abuse. Additionally, more is known about the adverse effect of corporal punishment on children.
The policy recommends that pediatricians help parents with effective and developmentally appropriate discipline strategies that do not involve corporal punishment or verbal shaming. Doctors hope to convey the message that spanking typically stops a child's current behavior, but no research has shown it to be effective for long-term behavior modification, and can pose a risk for the child in the future.
Related: 20 Alternatives to Spanking
The Academy also has resources that are available to parents when seeking other sources of effective discipline for their children, and cite formal parenting programs as options for parents that are evidence-based ineffective disciplinary teaching that do not involve spanking. They believe that when parents have better discipline toolkits, the need to resort to corporal punishment will not be as existent.
Additionally, more pediatricians advocate gentle parenting strategies for less friction between parents and their children, as well as for the long-term positive developmental growth of their children.
All news we're delighted to see.