Elk Grove Village, IL – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the primary professional organization responsible for establishing pediatric healthcare standards, has finally released updated recommendations on dosing of infantile spanking (IS) and corporal punishment (CP) in children.
“This represents a huge step forward for pediatricians and parents,” Head of Disciplinary Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Dr. Mort Fishman explained. “Until now, parents have had to call the pediatrician, make an appointment and travel to the office sometimes hours to days after the undesired behavior has occurred. Or they visit urgent care facilities and emergency departments. Sometimes they just wing it.”
It is this “winging it” by many parents that has concerned pediatric medical professionals for decades. Since the discovery of CP almost accidentally in the 1930s when a Harvard researcher inadvertently dropped a heavy glass beaker on the head of a stubborn lab assistant, a number of children have overdosed. Some have suffered permanent injury. A few have even died. Researchers have long blamed the lack of pediatric guidelines and inappropriate extrapolation of adult dosing, shouting out the oft repeated axiom that kids are not simply smaller adults. Recent studies have even revealed an alarming upward trend in the inappropriate use of home corporal punishment.
The usual suspects are frequently mentioned by pediatricians, researchers and public officials. “Anybody can publish anything on the internet,” Fishman, who co-authored the AAP paper, adds. “There are literally thousands of websites offering up unproven techniques, inconsistent dosing, and pseudoscientific mechanisms of action.”
Parent groups have also become a loud voice in the discussion of pediatric corporal punishment over the past several years, calling for more research and for guidelines for home use. Members of such organizations as Mother’s Against Time Out and the more influential National Spanking Society have raised awareness and millions of dollars with 5K running races, bake sales and van-based mobile spank clinics. Many pediatricians are giving credit to these groups for speaking out on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, and for pushing the AAP to act.
Dr. Fishman and the AAP hope that the new guidelines will help pediatric healthcare professionals to not only appropriately dose corporal punishment, but to better educate parents and other caregivers such as teachers, daycare workers and babysitters. As stated in the paper’s conclusion, “Empowered and educated caregivers can now confidently dole out safe and effective corporal punishment in a timely fashion without the need to clog up an already overburdened medical system.”
So are the new infantile spanking and corporal punishment guidelines useful for parents as well as pediatricians? They couldn’t be simpler according to Matt Stevens, a mechanical engineer and parent of 3 young children, one of which is kind of a jerk. “When one of my kids talks back or forgets to do a chore, usually Matty Jr., we have a handy flow chart taped to the wall by the fridge. After a few calculations, I know just how hard to smack him.”
But the responses to the new guidelines are not all positive. A vocal minority of pediatricians are raising concerns over the ability for caregivers without medical training to decipher the recommendations. Dr. Percival Boudreaux, academic pediatric hospitalist and discipline researcher, is one of the more prominent voices of opposition. “Is Timmy just being sassy or is he exhibiting stage 3 lollygagging? Is he a smart aleck or a wisenheimer? I trained in pediatrics for almost ten years and sometimes I can’t tell the difference!”