The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) - 67,000 members in number - are urging schools, madrassas and families to stop using corporal punishment and use alternative non-violent forms of discipline, such as rewarding positive behaviour.

The Academy says corporal punishment is totally ineffective as a disciplinary tool, and often leads to worse behaviour and causes serious harm to children.

Children who have disabilities like dyslexia and those who come from poor social backgrounds are the most likely ones to be hit.

The AAP said corporal punishment, is not an effective or ethical method for management of behaviour concerns.

"Children cannot learn when they do not feel safe," said Mandy A. Allison, MD, MSPH, MEd, FAAP, a lead author of the statement, written by the Council on School Health.

"There are many alternatives to corporal punishment at our disposal that are effective and non-violent. While a child or teen might become fearful and obedient in the short term after being struck, we know that over the long term, corporal punishment does not improve behaviour and in fact leads to a number of negative effects."

The AAP policies are written by medical experts and reflect the latest evidence in the field. They go through several rounds of peer review before being approved by the AAP Board of Directors and published in Pediatrics Magazine.

Most studies have reviewed the outcome of corporal punishment used by a parent or caregiver in the home, according to the statement. They show a higher incidence of behaviour and mental health problems, impaired cognitive development, poor educational outcomes, impaired social emotional development, an increased aggression and perpetration of violence, among other effects.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges the legal prohibition of corporal punishment in all nations, including Bangladesh.

Pediatricians, teachers, and parents are crucial allies in the fight to abolish corporal punishment both domestically and abroad. Inequities based on race and disability status can be addressed in part by abolishing corporal punishment in schools and madrassas.

Instead of using physical punishment, educators should promote age-appropriate, non-violent behavioral alternatives like Positive Behaviour Interventions (PBIS), restorative justice, conflict resolution, mentoring, and individual therapy.

Violence begets violence.

"It's important to create a trusting and safe environment for children to learn, and we as adults help set that tone," said Nathaniel Beers, MD, MPA, FAAP, co-author of the policy statement.

"Some healthy forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment may include the use of positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviours, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations.

Violence cannot be used to spread good, wholesome knowledge or the love of Allah. Violence feeds on itself. Violence begets violence.

AAP is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and wellbeing of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, staunch human rights activist, Honorary Member of the Bangladesh Freedom Fighters and an esteemed foreign friend of Bangladesh.

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