In October 2016, American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) launched “Hitting Hurts,” a community-wide initiative to stop corporal punishment, including spanking and hitting.
As part of the initiative, AFCH is the first UW Health facility to become a “No Hit Zone,” meaning that no hitting of any kind is allowed by adults or children. Patients and families visiting UW Health facilities can be stressed and the behaviors of young children can intensify feelings and lead to physical punishment.
"The goal of the ‘Hitting Hurts' campaign is to educate the public about the risks of using corporal punishment on children. UW Health's ‘No Hit Zone’ will reinforce this message by creating a safe, healthy and non-violent environment for everyone," said Barbara Knox, MD, medical director of the UW Health Child Protection Program and associate professor of pediatrics.
Dr. Knox is a champion of the “Hitting Hurts” campaign, along with AFCH child health advocate Nan Peterson, social workers Jessica Wipperfurth and Joyce Kilgore-Carlin, and nurse manager Windy Smith.
Research shows that hitting or spanking children teaches them to use violence to solve problems. Children who experience violence can do poorly in school, are more likely to be involved in delinquency and criminal behavior and are at a higher risk of physical and mental health problems as adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommend that parents avoid spanking and other forms of physical discipline of children.
Currently, ‘No Hit Zone’ signs are going up in UW Health facilities to make families and staff aware of the campaign. Staff are being trained in distraction and de-escalation techniques in case they witness hitting or spanking.
In addition, the team is creating a packet for families with information about the harms of hitting and spanking, forms of effective discipline and parenting resources.