- Using corporal punishment in schools can lead to higher incidence of behavioral and mental health problems, impaired cognitive development, poor educational outcomes and other adverse scenarios, the American Academy of Pediatrics said this week in calling for all states to end the practice through legislation.
- AAP's statement comes months after U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona asked schools to cease the practice of spanking, hitting and paddling students. Neither the AAP nor the U.S. Department of Education's actions are mandates.
- Both AAP and the Education Department recommend nonviolent behavior management practices, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports, restorative justice, conflict resolution and individual therapy.
As of last year, corporal punishment remained legal in public schools in 18 states and legal in 47 private schools in all states except Iowa and New Jersey, according to AAP. Children with disabilities, boys and Black youth were more likely to be hit as a form of punishment compared to those without disabilities, girls and White youth, AAP's statement said.
“Children cannot learn when they do not feel safe,” said Dr. Mandy Allison, a lead author of the statement from AAP’s Council on School Health.
AAP also called for families to stop "spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating, or shaming" their children.
Bicameral legislation in Congress proposes a federal ban on corporal punishment in schools. Violators could have federal funds withheld under the bills.
“There are many alternatives to corporal punishment at our disposal that are effective and nonviolent," Allison said. "While a child or teen might become fearful and obedient in the short term after being struck, we know that over the long term, corporal punishment does not improve behavior and in fact leads to a number of negative effects.”