The American Psychological Association joined a growing list of health organizations calling for a ban to spanking because it can cause short- and long-term harm to children.
The association has long warned physical discipline can be harmful to kids’ mental health. It made its position official Feb. 15 with a policy change.
“The research on the adverse outcomes associated with physical discipline indicates that any perceived short-term benefits of physical discipline do not outweigh the detriments of this form of discipline,” the group said in its Resolution on Physical Discipline of Children By Parents.
Scientific evidence says physical discipline leads to children with increased “behavior problems,” such as aggressiveness and defiance. The APA recommends using “positive” discipline such as reasoning, time-outs, withholding privileges, warnings and ignoring misbehavior.
Generations of poor behavior, possible physical abuse
The policy further notes children learn behavior from their parents, which can pass “undesirable conflict resolution practices” to subsequent generations. Evidence suggests physical discipline by caregivers can rise to the level of physical abuse.
The mental health organization joined the American Academy of Pediatrics, which updated its policy statement last year, in calling for an end to physical discipline.