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We were encouraged to see that the use of corporal punishment did not increase during the pandemic. However, those that did report using corporal punishment were also more likely to report experiencing intimate partner violence suggesting that practitioners may want to ask about violence in homes where spanking is used as a method of discipline.” Dina Burstein, MD, PhD, FAAP

1 of 6 reported having spanked their child during the pandemic

Screenshot of first page of paper.

Corporal punishment (CP) is broadly defined as “the use of physical force with the intention of causing pain but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control of the child’s behavior.” Although current policies, including a policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2018, discourage the use of CP, its use is still widespread in the US. The HOPE National Resource Center and colleagues conducted a new study, “Predictors of Corporal Punishment during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” to assess the proportion of parents who used CP during the pandemic and identify related risk and protective factors.

The authors analyzed three waves of survey responses from 9,000 caregivers from November 2020 to July 2021. They found that less than 1 in 6 caregivers reported having spanked their child in the past week. The use of spanking was associated with intimate partner violence, the use of multiple discipline strategies, and parents seeking support. Caregivers who engaged in multiple recreational activities with their family, reported feeling close to their children, and did not feel angry towards their children had lower odds of reporting spanking. Further research can further examine the relationship between spanking and other factors not addressed in this study.

Publication Information


Robert Sege, MD, PhD, FAAP*, Eliza Loren Purdue, BA*, Dina Burstein, MD, PhD, FAAP*, Phyllis Holditch NiolonChen Ye, MS, Elizabeth A. Swedo, MD, Tammy Piazza Hurley, Kavita Prasad, Bart Klika, PhD

*Affiliated with the HOPE National Resource Center


Pediatric Reports

Publication Date

April 19, 2024


corporal punishment, spanking, intimate partner violence, adverse childhood experiences, ACEs, caregiver stress, parental stress, caregiver support, child discipline strategies,  covid-19 pandemic


Sege R, Purdue EL, Burstein D, Niolon PH, Swedo EA, Hurley TP, Prasad K, Klika B. Predictors of Corporal Punishment during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Pediatr Rep. 2024 April 19. 16(2): 300-312. DOI: 10.3390/pediatric16020026.


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