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APA Links Spanking to Aggressive Behavior and Mental Health Issues

In case you needed more proof that spanking is not okay.

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the latest organization to speak out against spanking. On February 15, the group released a statement on the negative consequences of physical punishment, particularly when it comes to a child’s mental health.

“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 APA wrote in its updated “Resolution on Physical Discipline of Children By Parents,” reports USA Today.

Not only is spanking harmful, but it isn’t effective, says the APA. “Research indicates that physical discipline is not effective in achieving parents’ long-term goals of decreasing aggressive and defiant behavior in children or of promoting regulated and socially competent behavior in children,” the policy reads.

Back in November, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) took a similar stance on physical punishment and its detrimental effects in the organization’s first official statement on spanking since 1998.

“There’s been a great deal of additional research, and we’re now much stronger in saying that parents should never hit their child and never use verbal insults that would humiliate or shame the child.” said Dr. Robert Sege, one of the authors and a pediatrician at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

And while spanking is still legal in public schools in 19 states, the use of physical discipline has been decreasing across the country. And APA President Rosie Phillips Davis hopes that the APA’s latest policy will only improve things further.

“We hope that this resolution will make more parents and caregivers aware that other forms of discipline are effective and even more likely to result in the behaviors they want to see in their children,” she wrote in last week’s statement.