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Spank Out Day

Sponsored by the Center for Effective Disciple, Spank Out Day began in 1998 with the goal of ending corporal punishment such as spanking, and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. Parents and those who care for children are encouraged not to spank on the day, and to seek out alternative forms of discipline which may be used in the future. Informational events about child discipline are often held on the day.

Spanking is a contentious issue, with many experts opposing it, and some defending it, saying the critiques of it have been too extreme. In the 1950s, spanking was almost universally supported in the United States, but support has now dropped to about 70 percent. About 300 million children between the ages of two and four receive some sort of physical punishment around the world, and about 1.1 billion caregivers see spanking as a necessity. As of 2018, sixty countries have prohibited spanking. The first country to do so was Sweden, in 1979, but by 1996 only four more countries had done so. The recent uptick of countries banning spanking started in about 2006. Besides the Center for Effective Discipline focusing on eradicating spanking, UNICEF and the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children are working to pass more laws around the world to ban it.

Using violent discipline such as spanking may have various negative effects on children. It shows them that violence is an accepted form of behavior, and in turn may cause them to become more aggressive and hit others. This behavior may even last into adulthood. Some children who have experienced corporal punishment grow up to have mental health problems as well. If children are spanked for being antisocial, they are likely to become even more antisocial.

There are many ways of punishing children that do not include using force and pain. Establishing rules and consequences are important. Talking to children by explaining, reasoning, and verbally correcting them is effective, as is the praising of good behavior. Setting a positive example and being a good role model may also help children before they do something that warrants a punishment. Other effective types of punishment include time-outs and the taking away of toys or privileges. The effects of non-violent discipline help children grow into caring, responsible, and self-disciplined adults.

How to Observe

If you are a parent or caretaker of children, you are encouraged to not spank them on the day. This is a day to reflect on how you can create an emotionally supportive and loving relationship with the children in your life. This may also be a day to attend informational events about alternative forms of child discipline. Check to see if your city has any events. You could also explore some resources from the Center for Effective Discipline, read about some alternative to physical punishment, and see what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say about the issue.

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