Pediatricians have just declared that spanking under any circumstances is bad for children.

20 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics started veering parents away from spanking. Now they’re outright saying "Don't do it."

In 1998, the AAP issued guidelines to doctors stating that "parents be encouraged and assisted in developing methods other than spanking in response to undesired behavior." Now, the nation's largest organization of doctors who specialize in treating children is taking a harder stance.

"Aversive disciplinary strategies, including all forms of corporal punishment and yelling at or shaming children, are minimally effective in the short-term and not effective in the long-term," the new policy statement reads. "With new evidence, researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk of negative behavioral, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children.


Corporal punishment is defined as "noninjurious, open-handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior," which includes spanking. The policy statement includes findings from a vast body of research showing that spanking is proven to be ineffective at changing children's behavior and is associated with negative mental health in the long term.

Spanking has been a subject of debate among parents for decades, with passionate arguments on both sides.

I've written parenting content for years and have witnessed countless discussions about spanking. Some feel it's absolutely unacceptable strike a child in any way, for any reason. Others see a "pop on the butt" as a necessary way to drive home a lesson and teach kids to behave. Frequently, those in the non-spanking camp cite the research showing that spanking is an ineffective and potentially harmful form of discipline. Those who defend spanking often point to the decrease in spanking as a reason "kids these days" are disrespectful and misbehaved, and insist that being spanked themselves did not adversely affect them in any way.

Having grown up in a non-spanking household and raising my kids in one, I've never understood the arguments that spanking is necessary. Most kids now aren't spanked, and most of them are lovely children and teens who are respectful, kind, contributing members of our community.

So what do non-spanking parents do instead?

Healthy discipline strategies start with an understanding of natural child development stages.

Babies and toddlers can sometimes exhibit behaviors that may be frustrating to parents, but often those behaviors are simply phases of learning.

For instance, for babies and young toddlers who are getting into things, Dr. Robert Sege, a pediatrician at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and first author of the AAP policy statement told CNN, "the best thing to do is just pick them up and move them somewhere else, distract them, change the subject—and that's usually all they need and they can handle it."

Some spankers say they only use spanking for serious safety issues, like a toddler running into the street. Some, like Sege, suggest logical consequences like having the child hold your hand anytime you're near a road. But if the goal is to inspire fear of something truly dangerous, there are ways to do that without spanking.

When my toddlers started running into a road or reaching for a hot stovetop, I would immediately sweep them into my arms and express my own exaggerated fear for their safety. "Are you okay?! That was so scary! That car could have squashed you!" I'd get right down on their level, let them see my worried face, check them over to "make sure they were okay," and then hug them tight again. "Oh, thank goodness you're okay! That was so scary!" A little dramatic perhaps, but effective.

Positive parenting is a long game, but loving, consistent teaching pays off.

As kids get older and can understand more, parenting means lots of communication and consistency. Of course, kids need to know that there are consequences for their actions and choices—that's an important life lesson for parents to teach—but nowhere in real life is being hit on the butt a natural consequence for a poor choice.

Most of parenting boils down to helping kids learn how to be good humans, and spanking does nothing to teach them how to do that. And since research shows spanking is ineffective at best and harmful at worst, there's simply no need for it. Other methods of discipline are shown to have better outcomes, so parents would be wise to stop thinking of it as a necessary or useful tool and explore other means of teaching kids good behavior and habits.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

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WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

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Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

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It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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