Promoting Positive Childhoods: Why Sparing the Rod is Good for Child Development

Published April 16, 2024

As an organization dedicated to nurturing positive childhoods for all, Positive Childhood Alliance North Carolina (formerly Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina) strongly opposes any form of violence against children, including corporal punishment in our schools. Abolishing statutes permitting physical discipline in North Carolina schools aligns with scientific evidence that underscores its adverse impact on a child’s development and ultimately, our state’s future prosperity.

Our stance echoes the sentiments of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which emphasizes the detrimental long-term effects of corporal punishment on children’s behavior, mental health, cognitive development and educational outcomes – all of which can negatively impact North Carolina’s future prosperity.

It is crucial to recognize that corporal punishment disproportionately affects children of color within the school system, perpetuating systemic inequalities and harm. As a society, we must reject the notion that physical violence is an acceptable means of discipline, especially within the very settings where children should feel safe and supported – at school, at home and in their communities.

Furthermore, advocating for alternative age-appropriate and nonviolent behavioral strategies, such as positive reinforcement, conflict resolution strategies, and increased support from educators, counselors, and other family support professionals, is essential for promoting a nurturing and conducive learning environment for all youth.

Parenting supports like home visiting and parent education programs can help give parents and caregivers more effective tools to use in childrearing. By providing resources and education to all families, we can empower parents and caregivers to foster healthy, positive relationships with their children, thus reducing the likelihood of resorting to harmful disciplinary methods.

Moreover, it’s important to recognize the original meaning of the word “discipline.” The term originally meant to lead, teach and learn — not to punish. Understanding this original intent sheds light on the need to shift societal perceptions of discipline away from punitive measures towards nurturing and guiding children towards positive behavior.

Positive Childhood Alliance North Carolina urges policymakers, educators, healthcare providers, parents/caregivers and community members to prioritize the well-being and dignity of our children by unequivocally rejecting corporal punishment in schools. Together, let us work towards fostering environments where every child can live purposeful lives with hope for the future.

For more information on our stance and advocacy efforts, please visit our policy page on the Positive Childhood Alliance North Carolina website.