Don’t spank: Pediatricians warn parents of long-term harms

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(AP) -- The nation’s leading pediatricians’ group has strengthened its advice against spanking and other physical punishment because of the potential for long-term harm.

In an updated policy released Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics says those harms can include aggression, brain changes, substance abuse and suicidal behavior in adulthood.

The academy says research since its 1998 discipline policy led to the update. It says spanking is falling out of favor among parents, especially those with young children. While some parents still believe it can lead to short-term improvements in behavior, studies show spanking is no more effective than non-physical punishment, including timeouts, setting firm limits and establishing unwanted consequences.

The group suggests putting favorite toys away or reducing screen time.