Local pediatric office becomes a ‘no hit zone’

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Our grandparents did it, their parents did it, and research shows more than half of parents today spank  their children.

But experts are asking: “If you exchanged the word ‘spank’ for the word ‘hit,’ would you still think it’s OK?”

“It’s really hard to tell parents that spanking is hitting and spanking is not good,” said the Director of General Academic Pediatrics, Dr. John Harrington.

The local organizations Champions for Children and In Support of Children joined forces with Dr. Harrington, who announced Thursday his practice, located inside Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, is now a “no hit zone.”

“So, we’re trying to say spanking is hitting and in this area, no hitting,” he told WAVY.com.

Dr. Harrington joins a handful of hospitals across the country that have done the same thing, based on research from doctors, including Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD. University of Texas at Austin.

“What we found is spanking is consistently related to worse behavior in children, so the opposite of what parents want,” Gershoff said.

Gershoff came to Norfolk to help train staff. She said kids who are spanked exhibit more mental health problems, more delinquent behavior and have parents who are more likely to abuse.

“We don’t use physical force in the workplace to keep people in line… we’re not supposed to use it in our adult relationships. We use our negotiation and verbal skills and we should be modeling that with our children,” she explained.

“No hit zone” signs will pop up in Harrington’s office over the next few months. Just like “no smoking” signs you see in public, he hopes they will get people talking, thinking and changing old habits.

“Once you stop smoking, you can go back to normal lung function, so it’s likely you can go back to mental health functioning. That’s good and so I would submit to them that it’s never too late to stop.”

If you would like some help learning other ways to discipline children, CHKD offers parenting classes.