In this issue

Task force on physical punishment

News from interdivisional Task Force on Physical Punishment of Children.

By Cindy Miller-Perrin, PhD

Recently Div. 37, along with Div. 7 (Developmental Psychology), established the joint Task Force on Physical Punishment of Children. The ultimate purpose of the task force is to review the scientific literature on the effects of physical discipline on children and to disseminate information about its dangers, in an effort to both reduce parents' use of physical discipline and increase alternative forms of parenting.

Related to these efforts, this past fall the task force created a statement on physical punishment in response to the high-profile case involving football star, Adrian Peterson, who was indicted by a grand jury for reckless injury to his 4-year-old child while using physical punishment. The statement appears on the websites of both Div. 37 and Div. 7.

In addition, several members of the task force published op-eds or appeared on various news programs to discuss the negative outcomes associated with the physical punishment of children. Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD's op-ed piece entitled “Spanking, Whooping, Beating: It's All Hitting,” for example, was published on huffingtonpost.com. Several task force members have also been interviewed by various news agencies including George Holden, PhD, by the Washington Post, Alan Kazdin, PhD, by ABC News, and Gershoff by National Public Radio.

The task force is also presenting a collaborative program for the 2015 APA Convention entitled, “Changing Attitudes about and Use of Spanking across Contexts and Cultures.” This collaborative session will discuss intervention strategies to reduce parents' use of spanking with their children at the individual and community levels that are sensitive to parents' cultural and religious backgrounds. Program participants include Elizabeth Gershoff, Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, Gail Goodman, PhD, and Cindy Miller-Perrin, PhD.

Finally, the task force has been in close collaboration with Lauren Fasig Caldwell of APA's Children, Youth, and Families Office in an effort to draw attention to the issue of physical punishment of children within APA. An APA-sponsored roundtable on physical punishment of children is planned for this summer and will include representatives from a variety of constituents within APA. The goal of the round table will be to disseminate information on the use of physical discipline of children and encourage discussion about the topic.

Task force members include: Elizabeth Gershoff, Gail Goodman (co-chair, Div. 7), George Holden, Alan Kazdin, Cindy Miller-Perrin (co-chair, Div. 37) and Yo Jackson, PhD. For questions, comments, or additional information, please contact Cindy Miller-Perrin, president-elect of Div. 37 or Gail Goodman, past president of Div. 7.