Updated: Oct 25, 2018
The National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV) calls for the elimination of all forms of corporal punishment of children. Corporal punishment is defined as the use of physical force for the purpose of correction or control of the child’s behavior with the intentional or incidental result of causing pain or discomfort to the child. Physical force in the form of hitting is often referred to as spanking, swatting, whipping, popping, smacking, slapping, or paddling – all used in the name of discipline. NPEIV is committed to ending all hitting of children.
NPEIV professionals are in a strategic position to educate parents as well as individuals who work with children and families about the risk factors associated with the use of corporal punishment. Effective parenting does not require physical punishment. Parents need to be informed about the harmful effects of corporal punishment, educated about age-specific expectations for child skills and behavior, and taught and encouraged to use parenting approaches that teach children limit setting, self-regulation, and respect for self and others. Appropriate discipline can assist children in developing healthy emotional balance, the ability to tolerate and regulate frustration and tension, and provide the foundation to behave in socially acceptable ways. Children need consistent and age-appropriate guidance based in support, nurturance, and positive regard by all adults in role-model positions. Open communication between children and every adult in their lives is essential to helping children learn limit setting, acceptable behavior, responsibility, and adult self-discipline. NPEIV advocates for discipline practices that will develop caring, responsible, and self-disciplined individuals and recommends parenting strategies that will nurture, teach, and guide children and adolescents while supporting and promoting the child’s dignity.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), adopted in November 1989, specifies that all governments who ratified the Convention must take appropriate measures to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, including corporal punishment . The UN CRC strongly supports parents providing nonviolent guidance and direction to their children. In schools, administrators and teachers are to take into account the child’s “human dignity” and eliminate any discipline practices that may cause physical or mental harm. Globally, over forty-six countries have national laws banning any form of corporal punishment of children, even within their homes. Hitting family members other than children, as well as hitting acquaintances or strangers, is considered assault and a crime. Children, too, have the right and need to be afforded the same consideration.
Therefore, in a commitment to promote quality safe and nurturing environments where children can grow and develop to their full potential, NPEIV calls for the elimination of all forms of corporal punishment of children in homes, schools, and all settings throughout society. NPEIV pledges an active role to inform our allied professionals, policy makers, and the general public about the risk factors associated with corporal punishment of children.
 Committee on the Rights of the Child (2006). General Comment No. 8 (2006): The right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and/or cruel or degrading forms of punishment (articles 1, 28(2) and 37). Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations.
References and citations on the prevalence and effects of corporal punishment are available upon request.