Physical Punishment: A Scientific Review of Its Use in Discipline
The American College of Pediatricians carefully reviewed the available research on physical punishment in developing a position statement on the subject. Its conclusion: Disciplinary spanking by parents, when properly used, can be an effective component in an overall disciplinary plan with children. The details are contained in the following statements. Each of these statements is a printable Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format.
Physical Punishment Policy. Click on this link to view the updated 2021 Physical Punishment policy statement, which contains all the research and support for the position statement.
Executive Summary of Physical Punishment Policy. Click on this link to view the 2021 Executive Summary of the Physical Punishment position statement. For the complete report, view the policy statement listed above.
Guidelines for Disciplinary Spanking. Click on this link to view guidelines for a parent’s use of disciplinary spanking.
Spanking: A Valid Option for Parents. Click on this link to view the ACPeds response to the 2018 AAP statement “Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children”, which declares all disciplinary spanking by parents to be harmful to children. Click here for the PDF. Also, this Letter to the Editor critiques the AAP statement.
Research on Disciplinary Spanking is Misleading. Click on this link to see a 2017 Review and Critique of recent research on disciplinary spanking.
Response to “Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders.” Click on this link to view the College response to a 2012 Pediatrics article claiming that spanking leads to mental disorders.
Response to “Spanking and Child Development Across the First Decade of Life” published in Pediatrics October 2013. With a misrepresentation of the science, the Pediatrics article claims that spanking has negative effects on child behavioral and cognitive development. For a response to the study, click to view the Pediatrics website and scroll down to Comments, or a pdf of the Letter to the Editor from College members or a published copy.
Letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics Board of Directors on biased publications in Pediatrics on disciplinary spanking.
“Response to report on physical punishment in the United States.” Click on this link to view the College’s response to the 2008 “Report on Physical Punishment” published by the Center for Effective Discipline.
Den Trumbull, MD, reviews recent research on the risks and benefits of disciplinary spanking at www.GoodParent.org.