American Academy of Pediatrics' position on physical punishment
From Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12, American Academy of Pediatrics (Bantam, 1995)


PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT

Parents often ask, "Should I spank my child?"

Many parents occasionally lose their patience or, in anger or fear, may spank their youngster. For instance, if a child runs out into the street, a parent may sweep the child up and, in a moment of anxiety for the child's well-being, spank her to emphasize the parent's sense of urgency or worry.

Spanking may relieve a parent's frustration for the moment and extinguish the undesirable behavior for a brief time. But it is the least effective way to discipline.

It is harmful emotionally to both parent and child. Not only can it result in physical harm, but it teaches children that violence is an acceptable way to discipline or express anger. While stopping the behavior temporarily, it does not teach alternative behavior. It also interferes with the development of trust, a sense of security, and effective communication. (Spanking often becomes the method of communication.) It also may cause emotional pain and resentment.

WHERE WE STAND

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking a child. If the spanking is spontaneous, parents should later explain calmly why they did it, the specific behavior that provoked it, and how angry they felt. They might apologize to their child for their loss of control, because that usually helps the youngster understand and accept the spanking.

From Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12, American Academy of Pediatrics (Bantam, 1995)
See www.aap.org/advocacy/childhealthmonth/spank.htm
Return to Subject Index
Return to Table of Contents