Will wonders never cease? A group of professionals has actually said something sensible. Seems the American College of Pediatricians has actually come out with a statement that it's okay to spank.
ACP carefully reviewed the available research on corporal punishment and concludes, in its position statement on the subject, that disciplinary spanking by parents can be effective when properly used. "It is clear that parents should not solely rely upon disciplinary spanking to accomplish control of their child's behavior," says the just-released position statement. "Evidence suggests that it can be a useful and necessary part of a successful disciplinary plan."
Den Trumbull, MD, FCP, principal author of the statement explained, "When a child defies a parent's instruction, spanking is one of a few options parents can consider to correct the misbehavior." Trumbull added: "Spanking is most appropriate with children 2 to 6 years old, and when milder types of correction have failed."
ACP has created a one page handout for parents titled "Guidelines for Parental Use of Disciplinary Spanking". The guidelines advise that spanking "should be used only when the child receives at least as much encouragement and praise for good behavior as correction for problem behavior." It also says that "milder forms of discipline, such as verbal correction, extinction, logical and natural consequences, and time-out should be used initially, followed by spanking when noncompliance persists."
"Spanking should not be administered on impulse or when a parent is out of control," warns the document noting that "a spanking should always be motivated by love, for the purpose of teaching and correcting, and not for revenge or retaliation."
The guidelines also detail ages when spanking is appropriate. "Spanking is inappropriate before 15 months of age and is usually not necessary until after 18 months. It should be less necessary after 6 years and rarely, if ever, used after 10 years of age," it says.
That age estimate might be a little unrealistic for the strong-willed child, as this writer got at least a few spankings beyond the age of 10 (in the interest of protecting the dignity of the writer, the number of spankings and age of the final spanking will not be revealed).
The ACP guidelines can be found here, along with some of their research data.
A couple of excerpts from that data, to put the notions of bleeding-heart liberals into societal perspective:
- Surveys indicate that as many as 94% of parents of preschoolers use spanking, yet the incidence of physical child abuse in the America is less than 1%. Statistically, the two practices are far apart. Moreover, the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and the National Incidence Studies have reported a steady increase in physical child abuse that over the past two decades, while approval for parental spanking has steadily declined.
- More than 70% of primary care pediatricians who work every day with families reject the idea that spanking sets the stage for parents to engage in forms of physical abuse.