In the wake of the Adrian Peterson case, there has been growing awareness that spanking is linked to physical abuse of children.  Some say, Peterson crossed the line, and yet that line is arbitrary based upon personal belief.  The courts can’t even draw a clear line between spanking and abuse, where there has even been a shift to loosen the definition of abuse.  At the same time, there is a shift to clarify the definition of abuse in the child abuse code.  Both Delaware and Pennsylvania have modified the child abuse code.   Delaware modified the child abuse code to include “intent to cause pain,” essentially including spanking as child abuse.  Pennsylvania followed, by declaring forcefully shaking, slapping, or otherwise striking a child under 1 year of age as child abuse.

What is the purpose of banning spanking?

Researchers, child psychologists, representatives from Sweden and New Zealand, and child activists in the US talk about the purpose of banning spanking in the home.

Sweden was the first nation to ban spanking in 1979 and has studied the effects of this legislation for over thirty years.  Emma Kristensson, Rights Specialist, BRIS (Children’s Rights Society) Sweden, and colleagues discuss the ban on spanking in Sweden and the positive effect it has had on the way children are viewed as citizens in their own right. She speaks of shifting from the discussion of parental rights toward children’s inherent human rights. The initial criticism was that it is not possible to legislate against spanking, but that in fact, the ban has had a significant positive effect on decreasing violence against children.

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Featured Experts

Dr. John Allan, PhD, Child Developmental Psychologist:  Dr. Allan is Professor Emeritus of Counseling Psychology at the University of British Columbia and the author of numerous articles and books on play therapy and school counseling, some of which are translated into Japanese, Russian, Italian and Arabic.  Dr. Allan has more than 45 years clinical experience working with both “typical” children in classrooms and those physically and sexually abused, emotionally neglected and terminally ill.

Nadine Block – Nadine has worked as a teacher, school psychologist and consultant to mental health organizations. She founded the Center for Effective Discipline in l987 and served as its executive director until 2010. The organization is dedicated to ending corporal punishment of children through education and legal reform. https://www.nadineblock.com/

Murray Straus, PhD –  Dr. Straus was the leading researcher on the effects of Corporal Punishment. He was Professor of Sociology and founder and Co-Director of the Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire (since 1968). Previously he taught at the Univ of Minnesota, Cornell, Wisconsin, Washington State, U of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Visiting Professor: U. of Kentucky, U. Bombay (India), U. of York (England), Columbia Univ, U. of Leuven Belgium https://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/

Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD – Dr. Gershoff is Professor of Human Develoment and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Gershoff is a developmental psychologist who studies how parenting generally and discipline in particular affect children’s development. She is interested in how parenting affects children differently within contexts of poverty and low income, neighborhoods, schools, and culture. She is also interested in associations between children’s exposures to various forms of violence (from parents, communities, and terrorism) and their mental health and risk behaviors.   https://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/prc/directory/faculty/ethomp

Mali Nilson – SWEDEN  Ms. Nilsson is a Senior Advisor with Save the Children, Sweden. She has worked extensively in the international efforts to stop violent forms of discipline and to promote positive discipline.

Johny O’Donnell –  NEW ZEALAND Johny is the Founder of SAVE.org.  In March 2009 he and two friends embarked on a journey that created the nationwide movement- Students Against Violence Everywhere. A youth led anti-violence movement that aims to raise awareness of violence by spreading positive change in our schools, homes and communities.   To find out more about SAVE visit www.savemovement.org

Recent Highlights



StopSpanking.org recently featured an article with Amy Bacharach, PhD, Senior Research Analyst with the Administrative Office of the Courts, Center for Families, Children, and the Courts (CFCC). Read more about why we should ban spanking.



ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Connection recently posted about the passage of California resolution 19-05.112 ending the physical punishment of children. Read more about this major progress by the California Democratic Party here.

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