Campaigns and Issues

American Academy of Pediatrics Warns Against Physical Punishment


Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement, supported by research evidence, warning parents against spanking their children, defined as “non-injurious, open handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior.” They cite a study in the U.S. that found children who were spanked more than twice a month were more aggressive and had increased risk of mental health disorders.

First Call and many of our member organizations have endorsed the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth and called for repeal of section 43, the “spanking law” of the Criminal Code of Canada for many years. The research evidence shows that physical punishment is harmful to children’s development and ineffective as discipline. In 2003 the International Committee on the Rights of the Child noted their deep concern “that [Canada] has not enacted legislation explicitly prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment and has taken no action to remove section 43 of the Criminal Code, which allows corporal punishment.”

The AAP’s new policy statement was covered by The GuardianBoston Globe, and New York Times.