Press Release – The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children – New York, Inc., and The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (The NYSPCC) are committed to ending child maltreatment in New York State. A critical step in reducing one form of child maltreatment, physical abuse, is to reduce all forms of corporal punishment and physical discipline of children in all environments. Corporal punishment is defined as “the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correcting or controlling the child’s behavior.” It is often referred to as spanking, swatting, whipping, popping, smacking, slapping or paddling-all of which are behaviors used in the name of child discipline. Studies show that corporal punishment is very common in the United States. In 50% of families, corporal punishment to discipline children even as young as 1-1/2 years old.
Consistent with other research, a major Canadian study found that nearly three quarters of all cases of “substantiated physical abuse” began as physical punishment. Young children who experience corporal punishment are at a greater risk of injury and Child Protective Services involvement. Additionally, corporal punishment is related to a host of negative outcomes for children, including risk for child behavioral problems such as increased aggression, antisocial behavior and parent/child difficulties. No studies have shown that corporal punishment has positive effects on children or leads to sustained improved child behavior. Given the current research regarding the primary and secondary negative outcomes associated with corporal punishment and the increased risk of physical abuse, our organization opposes the hitting of children for disciplinary or any other purposes.
The use of corporal punishment varies by culture, nationality, race and ethnicity, however, there is a growing worldwide movement to end corporal punishment. As of September 2018, 54 countries worldwide have prohibited all corporal punishment of children and at least 50 more countries had expressed a commitment to full prohibition ( For the most current list, see: http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org ). Societies agree that hitting family members other than children, as well as hitting acquaintances and strangers, is considered assault and a crime. Hospitals and communities have started becoming “No Hit Zones.” It is our belief that children too have the same rights and need to be protected and safe from hitting as do other citizens and adults.
Building upon both a national and international movement to end all forms of corporal punishment in all settings, APSAC-NY and The NYSPCC have endorsed the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s position paper regarding corporal punishment and urges parents and families to use non-physical forms of child guidance. Examples include teaching children limit setting, self-regulation, and respect for self and others.