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Monday 16 September 2019

US experts urge parents to ditch smacking and use other punishments

The American Academy of Paediatrics has now updated its 1998 policy and says physical punishment can cause long-term harm.

A children’s playground (Rui Vieira/AP)
A children’s playground (Rui Vieira/AP)

By Lindsey Tanner

The US’s leading paediatricians’ group has strengthened its advice against smacking and other physical punishment because of the potential for long-term harm.

In an updated policy released on Monday, the American Academy of Paediatrics says those harms can include aggression, brain changes, substance abuse and suicidal behaviour in adulthood.

The academy says research since its 1998 discipline policy led to the update.

It said smacking is falling out of favour among parents, especially those with young children.

While some parents still believe it can lead to short-term improvements in behaviour, studies show smacking is no more effective than non-physical punishment, including timeouts, setting firm limits and establishing unwanted consequences.

The group suggests putting favourite toys away or reducing screen time.

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