updated policy statement on corporal punishment, the American Academy of
Pediatrics points to mounting evidence that supports its call to ban physical
ORLANDO, FLA – Corporal punishment – or the use
of spanking as a disciplinary tool –increases aggression in young
children in the long run and is ineffective in teaching a child
responsibility and self-control. In fact, new evidence suggests that it
may cause harm to the child by affecting normal brain development. Other
methods that teach children right from wrong are safer and more
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strengthens its call to ban corporal punishment within an updated policy statement, "Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children," which will be presented during the group's 2018 National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.
The policy statement, to be published in the December 2018 issue of Pediatrics
(Monday, Nov. 5 online) also addresses the harm associated with verbal
punishment, such as shaming or humiliation. The AAP supports educating
parents on more effective discipline strategies that teach appropriate
behavior and protect the child and others from harm.
news is, fewer parents support the use of spanking than they did in the
past," said Robert D. Sege, MD, PhD, and a past member of AAP Committee
on Child Abuse and Neglect, an author of the policy 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."
Sege will discuss the statement during a news conference at 9:30 a.m.
Monday, November 5 in the Orange County Convention Center, Room 221A.
Also speaking will be Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, Medical Editor of
HealthyChildren.org, and co-author of Baby & Child Health.
punishment and harsh verbal abuse may cause a child to be fearful in
the short term but does not improve behavior over the long term and may
cause more aggressive behaviors, according to the AAP. In one study,
young children who were spanked more than twice a month at age 3 were
more aggressive at age 5. Those same children at age 9 still exhibited
negative behaviors and lower receptive vocabulary scores, according to
Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at
or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes in the
brain's architecture. Harsh verbal abuse is also linked to mental health
problems in preteens and adolescents.
Experts hope to help
families devise more effective disciplinary plans that help them to
maintain a calm and controlled demeanor.
"It's best to begin with
the premise of rewarding positive behavior," said Benjamin S. Siegel,
MD, FAAP, co-author of the policy statement. "Parents can set up rules
and expectations in advance. The key is to be consistent in following
through with them."
AAP recommends that pediatricians use their
influence in office visits to help parents with age-appropriate
strategies for handling their child's discipline. They also may refer
families to community resources for more intensive or targeted help.
policy statement provides educational resources where physicians and
parents can learn healthy forms of discipline, such as limit setting,
redirecting and setting expectations.
AAP also opposes corporal punishment in schools, which is addressed in a separate policy statement published in 2000.
no benefit to spanking," Dr. Sege said. "We know that children grow and
develop better with positive role modeling and by setting healthy
limits. We can do better."
American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric
surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For frequent updates on
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