Adopted by the IPA Board of Representatives on 11 June 2022


The IPA unequivocally condemns the use of corporal punishment against children; there are no circumstances in which its use is acceptable. 
The IPA recommends instead the use of alternative methods which enhance children’s capacities to develop healthy emotional lives, a tolerance of frustration, appropriate regulation of internal tensions, and socially acceptable behaviours. 
All the available data shows that physical punishment of children is associated with increased violence and psychopathology. 
International framework
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child became effective in 1990. Every single country worldwide has signed the Convention; although (and unlike every other eligible country in the world) the United States of America has not ratified it. 
Implementation has remained partial and, in some countries, subject to opt-outs (for example, in the United Kingdom corporal punishment is banned in all UK schools, and physical punishment of children by parents is unlawful in Scotland and Wales; however it remains lawful in England).
The IPA therefore:
— calls on the one country which has not yet ratified the Convention — the United States of America — to do so;
— urges all countries that have not yet done so to adopt the three optional protocols to the convention (which seek to eliminate child soldiers; to end the sale of children, child prostitution and the involvement of children in pornography; and to improve the communication of complaints);
— urges all countries to remove all opt-outs and reservations. 
The IPA further calls on all countries which have not yet done so to change their laws and regulations to ensure they are compatible with the Convention. 

Appendix 1
Effective Alternatives to Physical Punishment 
These suggested alternatives provide parents and caregivers with greater understanding of children's development, present strategies which can lead to less violent behavior in children and adults and decrease the frustration and helplessness in parents which often lead to physical punishment.
1-Listening, Talking & Discussing. One of the most useful ways to achieve healthy child development is to promote using words instead of actions. Increasing the child’s capacity to put words to feelings and actions results in increased tension regulation. The awareness of feelings and ability to tolerate them without having to act, self-awareness, and thoughtful decision-making are important intervention. This process is accomplished by:
• Talking and using words instead of actions – talk rather than hit. Discuss with the child about what is safe or dangerous, what behaviors are acceptable or not, and why. 
• Listening to the child – find out why he/she did or did not do something. 
• Explaining your reasons – this will enhance the child's decision-making capacities. 
2- Discipline as Learning. The word "discipline" comes from the Latin word for "teaching" or "learning." Children's behaviors have meaning, and behaviors are directly connected to inner feelings. Thus, discipline is a process that focuses on feelings and the behaviors that result from these feelings. Having realistic expectations of the level of self-control, patience and judgment your child has at a given developmental stage greatly enhances effective discipline. 
3- Label Feelings. Help the child label his or her feelings with words as early as possible. Feelings such as interest, enjoyment, surprise, distress, anger, fear, shame, and disgust should be labeled with words. This facilitates tension regulation and aids the transition to more mature ways of handling emotion. encouraging the feeling of curiosity (interest) can be especially effective.
4- Positive Reinforcement. Rewards and praise will enhance the child's self-esteem when appropriate standards are met. Positive reinforcement is much more effective in obtaining short-term and long-term behavioral changes than punishments that evoke feelings of fear and shame. 
5- Teach by Example. Set a good example for the child. The child wants to be like the parents. Children identify with their parents, and they will put feelings and actions into words when they see their parents doing this.  Parents’ psychology, state of mind and behavior have a profound impact on the children’s development. A child will be impacted by the parent's lead through process of internalization.
6- Parents and Caregivers need to care for themselves. An exhausted, overburdened, or stressed parent/caregiver is less patient and less able to strategize effective non-physical approaches to discipline. Alcohol use also dramatically decreases frustration tolerance and increases impulsivity and resorting to violence. Interactions with others and various forms of support can be very helpful to stressed-out parents. 
Appendix 2

Literature Reviews and Selected References
American Psychological Association. Resolution on Physical Discipline by Parents. February 2019
Bitenski S (2006). Corporal Punishment of Children: A Human Rights Violation. Ardsley NY: Transnational Publishers, Inc.
Block N (2013). Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment. Columbus OH: Center for Effective Discipline.

Durrant J, Ensom R (2012). Physical punishment of children: Lessons from 20 years of research. Canadian Medical Association Journal 184: 1373-1376.
Fortson BL, Klevens J, Merrick MT, Gilbert LK, Alexander SP (2016). Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for policy, norm, and programmatic activities. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gershoff ET (2002). Physical punishment by parents and associated child behaviors and experiences: A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin 128: 539-579. 
Gershoff ET (2008). Report on Physical Punishment in the United States: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children. Columbus OH: Center for Effective Discipline.
Gershoff ET, Grogan-Kaylor A (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. Journal of Family Psychology 30:453-469.
Holden GW (2020). Why do parents hit their children? From cultural to unconscious determinants. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 73: 10-29. 
Katan A (1961). Some thoughts about the role of verbalization in early childhood. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 16: 184-188. 
Lenzer G (2018). Violence Against Children: Making Human Rights Real. New York: Routledge.
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (2000). What is Child Maltreatment?
Österman K, Bjorkqvist K (2014). Twenty-eight years after the complete ban on the physical punishment of children in Finland: Trends and psychosocial concomitants. Aggressive Behavior (online, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.) 40: 568-581.

Österman K, Bjorkqvist K, Wahlbeck K (2018). A decrease in victimization from physical punishment in Finland in 1934-2014: An evidence of an emerging culture of nonviolent parenting. Eurasian Journal of Medicine and Oncology 2: 221-230.
Patton S (2017). Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America. Boston: Beacon Press.
Sege RD, Siegel BS; Council on Child Abuse and Neglect; Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children. Pediatrics. 2018;142(6):e20183112 – February 01, 2019.

Stern DN (1985). The Interpersonal World of the Infant: A View from Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology. New York: Basic Books.

Straus MA (2010). Beating the Devil Out of Them: Physical Punishment in American Families (2nd Edition). Piscataway NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Straus MA, Douglas EM, Madeiros RA (2014). The Primordial Violence: Spanking Children, Psychological Development, Violence, and Crime. New York: Routledge. 
The Problem of Physical Punishment and Its Persistence: The Potential Roles of Psychoanalysis. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 73: 1-108, 2020.

Vaughan-Eden V, Holden GW, LeBlanc SS (2019). Commentary: Changing the social norm about corporal punishment. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal 36: 43-48. 

Walton B, Saunders BJ (2020). Towards an understanding of children’s perceptions of physical punishment in the family context. International journal of Children’s Rights 28:401423.
Waterson T, Janson S. Hitting children is wrong. BMJ Paediatrics Open 2020; 4: e000675.

Books for Parents and Caregivers 

Fraiberg SH (1959). The Magic Years: Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early Childhood. New York: Scribner.

Gopnik A, Meltzoff AN, Kuhl PK (1999). The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Hoffman L, Rice T, Prout T (2016). Manual of Regulation-Focused Psychotherapy for Children (RFP-C) with Externalizing Behaviors: A Psychodynamic Approach. New York: Routledge.

Holden GW (2021). Parenting: A Dynamic Perspective. Third Edition. New York: Sage Publishing.

Holinger PC (2003). What Babies Say Before They Can Talk: The Nine Signals Infants Use to Express Their Feelings. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Lieberman AF (2017). The Emotional Life of the Toddler. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Novick KK, Novick J (2010). Emotional Muscle: Strong Parents, Strong Children. Xlibris.
Additional Resources
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
Center for Effective Discipline
Children See Children Learn
The Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment 
The US National Initiative to End Corporal Punishment
The Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth
Positive Discipline in Everyday Life (positivedisciplineeveryday.com)