It's been two decades since the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an official stance about discipline, and in that time, the group's opinion has changed quite a bit. Its 1998 guidance recommended that "parents be encouraged and assisted in developing methods other than spanking in response to undesired behavior." Its new guidance, in the form of a policy statement published in the journal Pediatrics Monday, more explicitly directs parents not to spank or yell at their kids. Specifically, caregivers are encouraged to use "healthy forms of discipline," including positive reinforcement and setting limits and expectations, rather than any form of corporal punishment or yelling at children. In the intervening 20 years, an author of the policy statement explains, research has shown a host of negative effects that can be associated with spanking.
The statement notes that spanking has been found to be ineffective and can actually make behavior worse, NBC News reports. The news made waves on Twitter, where some were not happy at being told how to raise their kids. "Not on this momma's watch," reads one sample response. But, another pointed out, "Clicking on the American Academy of Pediatrics trending topic shows a steady stream of people mad because they think AAP said spanking was bad. Actually, what AAP mostly said was that it doesn't work." Specifically, the new policy statement says corporal punishment can be correlated with aggression, depression, and even less gray matter in kids' brains, CNN reports. The policy encourages pediatricians to discuss the matter with parents "so they can make their own decisions." (This city created "no-spanking zones.")