Best of the Best: Let’s Talk About Spanking, with Stacie LeBlanc

Season 5Episode 14September 15, 2023

Research shows that spanking is ineffective—and even harmful to kids—yet many child abuse professionals and medical providers still hesitate to raise the issue with parents.

Research shows that about 75% of physical abuse starts as physical discipline gone terribly awry. We have years of data showing spanking is ineffective—and, in fact, harmful to kids. But often the topic is treated as a third rail by many child abuse professionals: avoided and ignored.

We spoke to Stacie LeBlanc, CEO of The UP Institute and a champion of No Hit Zones. Why is it so difficult for child abuse professionals to discuss spanking with parents? How do we get past the culture wars on this topic? And how can we open a respectful conversation that moves beyond “Well, I turned out fine”? How can No Hit Zones help?

This episode was originally published on May 7, 2020.

Topics in this episode:

  • Concerns for kids during the pandemic (1:17)
  • Connection between spanking and physical abuse (2:53)
  • The research (4:15)
  • Poly-victimization and adverse childhood experiences (6:03)
  • A common problem that’s hard to talk about (8:05)
  • Handling parents’ objections (13:17)
  • A respectful approach (21:00)
  • Banning spanking, changing social norms (23:48)
  • How to start a No Hit Zone (26:23)
  • For more information (34:06)


Stacie Schrieffer LeBlanc, MEd, JD, CEO of The UP Institute

No Hit Zone Toolkit

The No Hit Zone concept was created in 2005 by Dr. Lolita McDavid at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio

Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D.

Painless Parenting

National No Hit Zone Committee

Stop Spanking

U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children has a list of organizations with policy statements on this topic

American Academy of Pediatrics put out a policy statement in November 2018

Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children has a map of global progress on the issue

JHACO (“Jayco”) refers to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations


For more information about National Children’s Alliance and the work of Children’s Advocacy Centers, visit our website at And join us on Facebook at One in Ten podcast.

Season 5, Episode 14

Re-release of Season 2, Episode 9

[Intro music begins]


[00:11] Teresa Huizar:
You are listening to One in Ten from National Children’s Alliance. I’m Teresa Huizar, your host. Join us as we engage in one-on-one conversations with the brightest minds in science, medicine, faith, communications, and the law. We’ll discuss the path forward to solve the greatest challenge one in 10 of our children face—child abuse.

Today’s episode is “Let’s Talk About Spanking.” Research shows that 75% of physical abuse starts as physical discipline gone terribly awry. We have years of data showing spanking is ineffective—and, in fact, harmful to kids. But the topic is often treated as a third rail by many child abuse professionals—avoided and ignored.

I spoke to Stacie LeBlanc, CEO of the UP Institute and a champion of No Hit Zones. Why is it so difficult for child abuse professionals to discuss spanking with parents? How do we get past the culture wars on this topic? And how can we open a respectful conversation that moves beyond, “Well, I turned out fine”? How can No Hit Zones help?

[Intro music begins to fade out]

[1:28] Teresa Huizar:
Stacie, thanks so much for coming on to the podcast today to talk about physical abuse and corporal punishment and about the No Hit Zone project. You know, this is a really interesting time because it’s Child Abuse Prevention Month. But it’s also a time when there’s a lot of social distancing and isolation going on and a lot of kids and vulnerable families that are home a lot more and a lot of families who have a lot of increased stress. So can you talk to me a little bit about your own concerns or worries about kids, you know, at home during COVID-19?

Stacie LeBlanc:
Thank you for having me. And, absolutely, we are so concerned. As so many professionals in the field know that when stress goes up, parenting stress is going to go up. And with kids being isolated without any resources to teachers and mandated reporters being able to have that outlet, we are very concerned.

The other thing I think is really interesting to note is they already have a study that’s been published by researchers who do a lot of work around spanking, indicating that within the last two weeks, about one in five parents have resorted to physical discipline, and that there’s more yelling, more shouting, more emotional abuse. And a lot of those other adverse childhood experiences are already being noted as increasing.

[02:53] Teresa Huizar:
So when you think about this, and I think for many people, you know, they may not be aware—although it sounds a lot to say this—they may not be really aware of the connection between physical abuse and what we’re really talking about there and spanking. Can you talk about the connection between the two?

Stacie LeBlanc:
A lot of folks, I mean, when I got into the field, I never thought in a million years I’d be talking about spanking. But then you start to realize, study after study and case after case, most physical abuse started as discipline that went bad. You know, no parent actually thinks they’re going to cross a line until they do.

And the first time a child says to that parent, “That didn’t hurt,” what’s a parent got to do? They hit them harder. And that’s, of course, where they wind up injured. It gets reported. It comes to our Children’s Advocacy Centers. They’re being interviewed, getting a medical exam. And all of it started as physical discipline.

There’s a study out of Canada that basically has indicated pretty strongly that about 75% of physical abuse does start as corporal punishment. And we’ve known since about 2008 pretty strongly that when a parent uses a hand, the risk of corporal punishment goes up, you know, by about three times. But when they’re using an object like a belt or a slipper, it’s going up even higher, like 9%.

[04:15] Teresa Huizar:
So when you think about that, you know, I remember just even my own start in the field ages ago that we already knew at that point some things about spanking. We knew that it wasn’t terribly effective in terms of changing behavior. We knew it could increase aggression in kids. But it seems like there’s a new wave of research about this as well. Can you talk a little bit about the research around brain science and other things that really I think is so impactful and a little bit of a different take on this issue?

Stacie LeBlanc:
No, absolutely. You know, with the meta-analysis that Dr. Gershoff, when she published her meta-analysis that looked at, like, over 1,500 studies, what they found is that all associations led to harmful short term and long term, and there really were no effectiveness. You know, there was study after study that showed that, within a short period of time, kids are repeating the very behavior that the parents set out to try to correct or change. So it wasn’t working. They were doing it again and again, potentially resulting in physical injury and a report of physical abuse. But it just wasn’t working.

And then in addition, Harvard Medical School looked at the brains using MRI studies and actually showed an association by kids who had been spanked—young adults who had been spanked as children—that they had decreases in gray matter anywhere between 19 and 14% in the parts of their brain that were most associated with IQ and cognitive ability. So the parts that we need for things like homework and for school and for testing. And a lot of parents unfortunately are using physical discipline when a kid has a poor grade or they’re frustrated with them.

[06:03] Teresa Huizar:
You know, I remember when I was going out to schools and doing body safety instruction and prevention activities. One of the things—you know, I was there ostensibly to prevent sexual abuse.

Stacie LeBlanc:

Teresa Huizar:
And I would talk to these kids, and one of the really interesting things that I found is that so many times, in the middle of a presentation or a talk about that, kids would disclose physical abuse to me. And I think this is a really common experience within CACs.

You know, as a former prosecutor and C.AC director, can you just talk a little bit about your experience in poly-victimization and kids coming in for one reason and really discovering other problems within the family?

Stacie LeBlanc:
Such a great point. I mean, when I started as a prosecutor, I also did a program where I went into schools, had a turtle and a puppet, did a whole show every Friday after grand jury.

So often when I would talk to these kids and they were afterwards, what they were sharing was about being spanked. And I almost felt like I was saying, “Oh, well, that’s not what I’m here for.” And I wasn’t even addressing it. And now, you know, what one article of the year is indicating that spanking actually is an ACE [adverse childhood experience]. You know, and so many of us in this field understand adverse childhood experiences and ACEs, but when they put out there that spanking itself, even when they’re, it’s limited for all the other correlations, that it was a part of that poly-victimization.

And so in my mind, we look at it in two ways. One, many of our kids come into our CACs, they walk up our steps because they’ve experienced an adverse childhood experience of sexual abuse, or severe physical abuse, or maybe witnessed a murder, or homicide, or domestic violence. And we’re not then screening, or we could be screening, to find out how they also experience in this other ACE. And could we do some education and advocacy to understand for those parents that this is another adverse childhood experience that would be adding up and increasing that ACE score or poly-victimization for that particular child.

[08:04] Teresa Huizar:
Let me ask you this. It seems like this is one of those topics that many child abuse professionals find tricky. You know, I mean, if we were talking about a cigarette burn or a scalding or anything like that, or a broken bone—no question, they would address it.

Stacie LeBlanc:

Teresa Huizar:
But there’s this level of discomfort, it seems like, about addressing the issue of spanking in and of itself.

Did you find that when you, you know, as a CAC director at the time decided to take this on, did you find that there was a certain nervousness or anxiety around addressing it?

Stacie LeBlanc:
No, I think absolutely. I mean in helping folks—I just got off the call today with someone that wants to start a No Hit Zone and, like, “I think I’m the only one against spanking.” And I love to be able to point them to this study of pediatricians who actually showed that, when they surveyed pediatricians across our country, the vast majority knew spanking is harmful and they didn’t want the parents to be hitting the children that they were their patients. But they felt uncomfortable bringing it up.

And they actually thought that—so many of them actually thought that their colleagues, other pediatricians in their practice and in their hospitals didn’t think the same way. And so, so often we sort of all in a vacuum. Many of us don’t like what we see in the grocery store. We don’t like what we see in our CAC waiting room, but we don’t address it. Because we might think we’re in the minority.

And so it’s an important part so that we can talk about. And what I love about No Hit Zones is it puts it right out there up front. It puts a sign up. So it makes it very easy to approach a parent about this subject that we all—from pediatricians, to advocates, to security folks, to people in grocery stores that they’re uncomfortable with talking about.

[09:51] Teresa Huizar:
So can you, you know—speaking of that, it’s a great place to sort of dive into this project. How did you decide to take this on in your CAC, and how did you approach those conversations with parents?

Stacie LeBlanc:
My initial decision really was going to a conference and actually talking to someone from Rainbow Babies. I didn’t invent No Hit Zones. And they said they hung up signs, No Hit Zone signs. And I’m like, “Well, how’s that working?” And I’m like, “We think it does work, because it got everybody in our hospital talking about it, everybody in our clinic.” And I talked to the folks and I was intrigued by it.

That was my first seed that was planted about No Hit Zones. But as time went on in New Orleans, where I served as the CAC director for a number of years, I started to map where physical abuse was. Because we started to see sort of a flattening of sexual abuse but an increase and a spike in kids—

Teresa Huizar:

Stacie LeBlanc:
—that were physically abused. So we mapped: Where was it? Where were the neighborhoods that it was occurring?

And when I had printed it out and I had showed it to one of my colleagues that does some work with the city government and public health. She immediately said, “Oh, I know that map. That’s the homicide map.” And I said, “No, no, no, this is the physical abuse map.” And she goes, “No, it matches.” And we looked at them and they looked almost identical. And so we realized that this violence that was starting in homes was probably pouring out into the streets of New Orleans.

And, you know, so much effort was being put into trying to reduce violence on the streets, but were we trying to reduce violence in homes?

And at that point, it brought me back to what is a way to do this? So I developed a coalition within the hospital and said: What can we do to be ambassadors to get this out, in our hospital, in our churches, and in our schools?

[11:45] Teresa Huizar:
And so, thinking about the first time you sat down with a parent and decided that you were going to broach the subject about this is a No Hit Zone here at the CAC, just sort of take me through what that experience was like.

Stacie LeBlanc:
You know, I had actually had the experience of doing it before we were a No Hit Zone, as I would speculate that most CAC directors and folks that work in the CAC have had this conversation. But what I can tell you is that I watch my own staff and team have so much more ease of having that conversation when they can approach someone. And of course, they would be trained to approach them calmly, patiently, not aggressively, not raise their voice, try to do it so no one else would hear and be able to say, “Oh, ma’am, I’m so sorry. I need to tell you that by policy, I’m obligated to let you know, this is a No Hit Zone for the safety and protection of all the children we serve. How can I help you?”

And once you see that done and people practice it and they realize it’s not that difficult to be able to do that. And what I think I love most about No Hit Zones is you can kind of hide behind the badge. You don’t have to say, “I think spanking is wrong.” You don’t have to say, “I think you’re a bad parent.” You can say, “It’s a policy here. I’m obligated to tell you.” Just like if someone lit a cigarette in your waiting room in your CAC, it’s, “Oh, I’m so sorry, you can’t smoke in here.” It is that exact same way to approach it. It makes the initial conversation much, much easier.

[13:18] Teresa Huizar:
So one of the things I’m wondering, I can completely understand how it helps to have a policy and a campaign like this when you’re, yeah, approaching parents, because as you say—

Stacie LeBlanc:

Teresa Huizar:
—it’s the policy itself that you’re advocating in many ways. And you’re not making someone feel picked on or pointed out in a certain way since it’s applied to everybody, right?, in a No Hit Zone.

Stacie LeBlanc:

Teresa Huizar:
It’s a No Hit Zone for staff, employees, clients, kids, you name it.

But I’m wondering about those conversations that parents may have with you after you say that, where they begin to talk about their belief in spanking or why they think it’s a brilliant idea. And so, talk a little bit about handling those conversations. Because I think that’s what people worry about is: And then what happens after that?

Stacie LeBlanc:
Absolutely. So in every No Hit Zone training, we always address the most common. The thing that folks fear the most is the parent that’s going to say, “Are you telling me I can’t spank my child? This is my business.” And one of the easiest responses is the honest response: “No, I’m not telling you that. I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just saying that here, this is our policy.”

But—and here’s what I love about No Hit Zones, because the research on them actually says they’re the most promising, have the most considerable promise for changing attitudes. But that is accelerated if you can give the parents materials. So it’s sort of like an approach: “We have a policy. You know, I’m so sorry I have to tell you this. We have this policy. But here’s some materials.”

And I love when materials are broken down by age. Because what you would give a parent of an infant or a toddler is completely different than you’re going to give to a parent, you know, of a child that’s a teenager. So I love having developmental pieces to give a parent, and so that they immediately dive in. “Oh wait, you’re talking about homework. You’re talking about not getting out of bed. You’re talking about sexting. Your materials are addressing some of my biggest challenges right now.” And by having that, it makes it easier.

Now, I do believe that a lot of folks want to have the conversation. So some folks, you know, don’t just want to approach and hand them material, and that’s perfectly fine for a No Hit Zone. But we have developed training materials and a training video around No Hit Zones and a program called Painless Parenting, which is like, let’s practice having this conversation, as we would any conversation, in role play.

What are the most common scenarios? What if a parent says, “But it’s in my Bible”? Are you not Christian?” Or you, you know, “Because of my religion.” You know, how are you going to address that? How are you going to help in that situation?

Or a lot of times folks will say, “Well, I’m uncomfortable because of the color of my skin compared to a parent I’m serving.” We wouldn’t discriminate in approaching any parent as it relates to health. based on the color of our skin. And so we need to get comfortable of having this conversation and being able to say that race and warmth after hitting your child is not a moderator. It doesn’t change the long-term harms. And so we have to be able to address all those issues.

Teresa Huizar: So what’s the most common one that you hear? I’m wondering, Stacie, as you talk to all of these parents, you know, I think parents generally want to do the right thing, of course, and they care about their kids. And so what’s the most common thing that they say in terms of: “This is why I’m doing it”?

Stacie LeBlanc:
Number one is: “You know, I was spanked. I turned out OK.”

And, you know, that’s a difficult one. Because a lot of folks initially, their initial response to it might be to address it in a humorous way. Like, “Well, that’s debatable. What do your friends think about that?” We try not to be sarcastic in our response to that.

What I like to say to folks when they say to me, “But I turned out OK,” is just to say, “But are there other things that your parents did that you don’t want to repeat in your parenting? Are there other practices that your parents might have done?” And if I feel like it’s a safe situation, I might share with them.

For instance, I grew up, I never had a car seat, not once, but I wouldn’t do that with my kids anymore. My parents smoked. I was around smoke a lot, you know, with loving parents. I wouldn’t have my children around secondhand smoke. There’s probably many—I never had a bicycle helmet, you know, but I wouldn’t do that either. Those are all risks. And, you know, sure. I mean, it’s risky to run across the interstate. Can you run across the interstate and survive? Sure you can. But we would never want to take any unnecessary risk with our children.

And a lot of other research says it’s not effective. So if you want to get a change in behavior, wouldn’t you want to use something that works?

[18:12] Teresa Huizar:
You know, it’s interesting. I think that issue of “I turned out OK” is, I have to say, even if I just think about my own Facebook feed and what comes across it, whenever this issue comes up, I think that that’s the thing that I hear the most.

And I think the thing about that is—you know, I think about my own childhood. And I think about the fact that I was not spanked often, but I was spanked. And when I, when I look back at that, it’s not that I have these bitter, horrible feelings. You know, nobody was leaving marks or bruises or any of that. But I will tell you something, I felt very defiant.

And so when I think about, and I remember that as an adult, you know, I’m 48 years old and I’m remembering how defiant and angry and resentful I felt as a 6-year-old or 7-year-old. And the fact that I can remember that very distinctly all this time later—not that I feel that way toward my parents, I’m not saying that.

Stacie LeBlanc:

Teresa Huizar:
But I’m saying the fact that I remember feeling that as a child tells me it was totally ineffective. If it’d been effective, I would have thought to myself, “I need to desist whatever they’re telling me to do.”


But instead my reaction was, “How dare you?” You know, it’s like, that is not the reaction parents are going for, I don’t think, when that’s happening, yeah.

Stacie LeBlanc:
And I think a lot of people share your experience.

You know, I’ve done a lot of trainings on this, and I’ve opened many up if people are willing to share, you know, what was it called in their home. In our own clinic, we started surveying parents as to what did they do for discipline. And we’d have a box that said “hitting,” and then it would say “spanking,” “whooping,” “tapping.” And no parent would ever check “hitting,” but they would check something else.

Teresa Huizar:
Oh, interesting.

Stacie LeBlanc:
So they use their own cognitive dissonance word as to what it’s occurred, right? And so I used to like to ask people if they were willing to share what was hitting a child for discipline purposes called in their home, and if they’re willing to share how it made them feel.

And a lot of people say it made them feel humiliated.

Teresa Huizar:

Stacie LeBlanc:
It made them feel shame. It made them feel defiant. It made them feel anger. None of which are emotions that parents want to make their children feel.

Teresa Huizar:

Stacie LeBlanc:
They’re trying to change the behavior. And I think when we look at it from that lens, it helps parents to understand: “That’s not the result I really want here.” And I think it’s a great way to approach it as to: “How did it make you feel?”

Some folks—and the research sort of supports that, despite the fact that it might have some harmful outcomes, they feel like it’s necessary because it works.

And when we talk about how it made him feel, it’s like, “Yeah, But did that really work? Did it also cause something you didn’t want? And did it change the behavior? Did you teach that child what you wanted them to do?”

[21:01] Teresa Huizar:
Yeah. You know, what I appreciated about every time I’ve talked with you about this informally and about the campaign itself is I feel like it’s deeply respectful of parents as really, you know, the leaders that they are in their household.

I think it’s deeply respectful of, you know, the fact that we all come with our own cultural—

Stacie LeBlanc:

Teresa Huizar:
—and historical baggage that we carry with us in the way we were raised, and really assumes good intention on the part of parents in terms of every generation wanting to do better for their kids than the generation before.

And I think that’s key. Because what I feel is that there’s become a little bit—or maybe has always been—a little bit of a culture war on this issue, right?

Stacie LeBlanc:

Teresa Huizar:
You know, so it sort of gets viewed as: Liberal elites don’t spank their children, and their children wind up being horrible, narcissistic little human beings.


And you know, and then conservative, God-fearing people spank their children, and their children turn out well. And I think that that false narrative on both sides—and I’m not blaming any particular party for this—but I think that that’s so detrimental.

And when you start talking to people about their own feelings, their feelings of competency as a parent, their feelings of love for their children, their feelings as a child experiencing these things, it just opens up hearts, I think, to a really different kind of conversation. So I just, you know, want to say how much I appreciate that about the work that you’ve done and are doing and this No Hit Zone initiative, which I think just really takes so much of the hostile air out of these conversations, hopefully.

Stacie LeBlanc:
And I share your experience also.

You know, I was raised—I was very lucky. I was. I always say I won the lottery of parents. And I don’t mean financially or monetarily, but by loving parents. And yes, they spanked me. But I don’t blame my parents. They had no idea that that was harmful.

Teresa Huizar:

Stacie LeBlanc:
I mean, they truly did it from a place of love. And so I feel like if we look at parents and that, yeah, they’re hitting a lot of times in frustration, but they’re doing something that was done to them. We know parents with higher ACEs spank more. But they think they’re doing the right thing. And if we can just provide them with the education without judgment, without shame and give them alternatives that work. You know, we’ve shown in other countries—we now have 59 countries that have banned spanking and have reduced it significantly and have shown reductions in their physical abuse.

If we could just plant the seeds in our CACs where we know we’re serving high-risk children that have a lot of exposure to trauma, that we could, you know, do so much to reduce the trauma in those homes.

[23:47] Teresa Huizar:
So one of the things I think that you’re talking about with No Hint Zones as an experience really connects to this experience that other countries have had that have banned it.

I think, you know, Americans get very scared. They hear something like that. They’re like, “Oh my God, big government.” But in those countries, they didn’t, then after banning it set out to run around fining people and dragging them into court. It was really that just the government itself declared: “The science has coalesced. This is a bad idea. Let’s not do it.” And by virtue of being clear about that, the behavior really dropped off because people don’t want to be lawbreakers and outside that.

And I think that if we can get a groundswell of support for No Hit Zones, it seems to me that it’s the same sort of thing. We’re not saying that “you have to” or “must.” We’re saying that, by declaring that it’s not a good idea, people on their own, you know, will say, “Yeah, probably not good to be hitting.”

Stacie LeBlanc:
Such a good point.

And, you know, no one on the National No Hit Zone Committee or the National Initiative to End Corporal Punishment or the U. S. Alliance right now is really pushing to ban or create a legal consequence for hitting children. You know, we all know that incarceration of a parent is another ACE, another adverse childhood experience. That would not be a healthy outcome.

What we’re looking for is to change the social norm. And I think when you look at the research, a lot of research has indicated one of the indicators that’s causing, that’s a prevalent risk factor in the U.S. as compared to other countries is that aspect of the cultural norms around hitting children.

So it really is about changing the norm. And that’s why I think No Hit Zones work so well, just like “no smoking”, signs. They change the norm. You know, in the sixties when people hung up signs and they started frowning at people when they lit up at the table next to them or, you know, in the airline seat next to them, the norm changed, and people reduced the behavior.

Because some people will sort of come back and say, “Well, wait a minute, they can’t spank their child in the lobby of my hospital, but they could take their child to their car and do it.” And that’s true. It’s not a blanket. But when we reduce the behavior, just like if we reduce smoking behaviors, ultimately they’re going to have to find an alternative. And when they figure out there’s an alternative that works better, then it could, you know, ultimately go from No Hit Zones in organizations to no hit homes, which is ultimately our goal.

[26:24] Teresa Huizar:
So if someone wants to become involved with a No Hit Zone project, how do they go about that?

Stacie LeBlanc:
So they can get in touch with any of us on the committee. We have a toolkit that we created. It’s just an unfunded, you know, a bunch of us who have started No Hit Zones said, “Let’s share our materials.” We used to be on the phone a lot with folks saying, “How do I do this?”

So we realized that, you know, you don’t have to recreate the wheel. You can make your own sign. Nobody owns what your sign has to look like. We do recommend that it somehow clearly indicates “No Hit Zone.” Some folks have created signs that are like, “Hug place” or “Hugs only.” And that would sort of be like in the sixties if we hung up signs that said, “Breathe clean air.” People would still be smoking under them going like, “That’s a great idea.”

You know, so, we need to be clear about the message. And so it does need to be: “This is harmful.” So if they want to have samples, we have this toolkit at They can look at the samples.

We highly recommend—we implemented our No Hit Zones across the spectrum of prevention. Which many folks, you know, understand it’s just a really great way to change social norms. It’s an evidence-based practice that Dr. Cohen started with changing social norms. And so at the highest level, it’s really good to have a policy because it’s really good for that CAC to say: “It’s our policy here.” For that hospital, for that school: “It’s the policy here.”

Secondly, we really recommend that you it’s hard to start a No Hit Zone on your own. You might think it’s the greatest idea since sliced bread, but the child abuse pediatrician you work with is like, “I’m worried about broken bones and burns. That’s not my issue.” So it’s important that you find ambassadors for your cause and you work with them.

I found in my hospital when I started this, and I had some resistance, getting security on board was an important component. They were tired of people calling from all across the hospital saying, “I just saw a parent hit their child.” And they were like, “We’re not the experts in this.” So they were all about being able to approach that parent and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, ma’am. This is a No Hit Zone. Here’s some materials.” So sometimes you have friends in interesting places to help you to be ambassadors.

So using that spectrum model, we recommend first, policy. Second, getting that coalition. And then really targeting the key informants. And when it comes to spanking, the research is pretty clear. Number one is your medical providers, your pediatricians and your medical providers. Number two are going to be your religious faith leaders in your community and hospitals and schools. And then next is your mental health providers. And so getting all of those folks on board is an incredibly crucial part, and training them so that they’re comfortable with approaching.

We do also find and we recommend that for organizational practices, it’s important for this to not look like this is just a laminated piece of paper on the wall. Those will walk. Sometimes grandparents could take them with them in their purse to bring to their daughter-in-law because they don’t want them spanking their grandchild. And we support that, but they do tend to walk. I found that JCAHO [Joint Commission Accreditation and Certification] approved signs that adhere to a wall that you’d have to take the sheetrock down were going to last beyond me. And so, so I think it’s really important. We’re not looking for environmental friendly signs. We’re looking for them to last a long time. And so that everybody knows this isn’t just an idea we had. This is really something that this organization supports. So the signs outside of our hospital were the exact same size and quality of a stop sign. And they said it’s a No Hit Zone.

Having materials for those parents, the research really indicates Dr. Gershoff and all of her colleagues found that No Hit Zones do have the most promising practice, but it’s important to have that training for those key informants and to have those materials. So, the number one place I’d recommend is they just go to You know, there’s plenty of stuff there that’s free that they can download, or they can make their own. We ask that they register because we like to just chart on a map of where they’re going. And it’s interesting. We have a No Hit Zone that’s registered in Japan and we have them internationally in places where spanking is banned legally.

They’re joining.

Teresa Huizar:
That’s interesting.

Stacie LeBlanc:
It is interesting.

[30:57] Teresa Huizar:
Yeah, yeah. So what’s your grand vision for this? What would you like to see at the end of this entire initiative?

Stacie LeBlanc:
You know, in my end vision, there’s a map of homes everywhere, and they’re all like, we’re a “no hit home.” That is my end vision.

Teresa Huizar:

Stacie LeBlanc:
Right now, we’d love to see to get more in the West. It’s interesting in how we’ve been mapping them, they’re much more in the Southeast, which is sort of interesting. But I just went to Portland and did a grand rounds and some training there. And, you know, we got one—it sort of goes back to your discussion earlier that maybe folks think this is more of a liberal matter, but in Portland, they were very progressive and they really felt when I went there, many of them that “we don’t really have it.”

And the first thing I asked every group of pediatricians, every group of nurses, “Have you ever witnessed or heard of a parent threatened to hit?” And every hand went up. “Have you ever heard of someone say they did it because it was in the Bible?” All hands went up. And they thought those were issues that didn’t exist in their community. And so I think it’s important that we realize that what goes on behind closed doors, just like during COVID, may not be what we see in our waiting rooms or what we expect.

You know, from my personal experience, my mother never, ever would consider hitting me in public. And when she would see another parent spank their child, she’d be horrified. And it would always kind of—it always, you know, even as a young kid, I’d be like, “You do that.” And she’s like, “I would never hit you,” you know, “in the grocery store.” And I’m like, so that was what I would call a “closet spanker.”

So, you know, a lot of folks need to understand it’s happening everywhere. And so if we could get even folks that consider themselves really progressive to hang these signs and be a part of the movement, we’re going to get it more into homes.

[32:54] Teresa Huizar:
Oh my goodness, I can just see a million memes on Facebook. “I’m a No Hit Zone home.” I mean, I would love it, especially during these stay-at-home orders.

Stacie LeBlanc:
I know.

Teresa Huizar:
It would make my heart so happy to know all those kids are safe and not having to worry that something might get out of hand.

Because I think, you know, as we’ve talked, I think one of the things that just brings to mind for me is that there are lots of things where you can avoid the danger by avoiding the behavior altogether, right?

Stacie LeBlanc:
Mm-hmm. Yep.

Teresa Huizar:
You know, you don’t have to worry that you’re going to, you know, crack your head riding your bicycle if you have that helmet on. You know, it’s just an added layer of safety. If you just say from the beginning, “This isn’t something that I want to be a part of, this isn’t something I want to do. I want to,” you know, “really have a No Hit Zone home” and facility and center and all of those things.

So I just thank you so much for the work that you’re doing with that. And we’ll hope that many CACs and other child abuse professionals will go to the website, download the materials, have those important conversations with kids and families.

[Outro music begins]

So with that, Stacie, thank you so much for joining the podcast. We really appreciate your time on One in Ten, and I know our listeners will benefit from it.

Stacie LeBlanc:
Well, thank you. And thank you for all the work you’re doing.


[34:06] Teresa Huizar:
Thank you for listening to One in Ten. We hope you’ll tune in for our next episode when we’ll talk to professors Deborah Poole and Jason Dickinson about their research into teleforensic interviewing. Also, please check out our new One in Ten Facebook page for bonus content, a deeper dive on our guests and their work, and more. Find it on Facebook at OneInTenPodcast.

For more information about National Children’s Alliance and the work of Children’s Advocacy Centers, visit our website at www.nationalchildrensalliance. org.