Spanking children is harmful and ineffective, pediatricians group warns

To spank or not to spank? A group of pediatricians is against it, according to a new report.

Researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement, published in the Pediatrics journal, to recommend "healthy forms of discipline" to parents.

The new statement comes 20 years after the 1998 recommendation, which encouraged parents to use discipline methods other than spanking.

In the latest one, the experts said corporal punishment, defined as “any punishment in which physical force is issued and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort,” was minimally effective.

“For many children, spanking increases aggression and anger instead of teaching responsibility and self-control,” the team wrote.

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They also noted corporal punishment was associated with physical injury, increased aggression in school and a raised risk of mental health disorders, among other issues, which was all based on several studies they reviewed.

Furthermore, the pediatricians encouraged parents to employ other forms of discipline, “such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations,” the authors explained.

They also said different forms of discipline may work best for different age groups.

For children under age 1, they said parents should move the child to another area to distract them since they don’t yet have the ability to learn rules. As for toddlers and preschoolers, try time-outs. And for older children, parents are advised to allow the natural consequences of misbehavior to play out.

“This advice will be most helpful if it is combined with teaching parents new strategies to replace their previous use of corporal punishment,” the AAP said. “Appropriate methods for addressing children’s behavior will change as the children grow and develop increased cognitive and executive function abilities.”

Want to learn more? Read the full assessment here.