Letter to Pope Francis from Mady Gomez   followed by        

Specific Faith-Based Support for Prohibition of Hitting Children


  An Open Letter to the Pope


The US Alliance to End the Hitting of Children shares with Pope Francis the vision of a world in which all children are treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. We support these values because in such a world, every child can grow into adulthood with a generous capacity for love, trust and empathy. However, we were distressed to read of the Pope’s remarks regarding the father who “smacked” his children (AP, Feb. 5, 2015). Contrary to the Pope’s comment, it is not possible to strike a child while maintaining the child’s dignity.

So why is Pope Francis condoning spanking? Pope Francis and too many parents continue to accept the deeply embedded disciplinary behavior of spanking children, without recognizing the long-term physical and mental risks associated with it. Furthermore, spanking is a violation of all children’s right to be free from violence.

Over the past 15 years, research into healthy parent-child relationships, brain development, and the effects of early adverse childhood experiences makes it clear that it is never OK to hit a child. On occasion, well-meaning parents, using corporal punishment for discipline, inadvertently injure children. Any form of violence against children, especially within the context of the parent-child relationship, risks children’s well-being. 

In response to the science, the consideration of human rights, and other reasons, a number of leading child development organizations and at least two national religious organizations (United Methodist Church & Presbyterian Church-USA) in the US have made formal statements against spanking.

We respectfully request that Pope Francis reconsider the topic based on the research, children’s rights, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Those considerations will lead the Pope to a very different conclusion about the acceptability of spanking.

Catholic parents who want to learn more about how to educate and support the development of our children through health attachment and relationship, can go to Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner at: http://catholicap.com.

To learn more about the problems with spanking and the alternative of positive parenting, please visit us at endhittingusa.org.







Specific Faith-Based Support for Prohibition of Hitting Children

Baha’i Faith

“The relationship within the family should reflect what is regarded as the norm for relationships in the Baha’i community which is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank, loving consultation ... each person in the family must be respected as an individual and must be given both the love and the space to develop and grow.... Violence towards, vilification or humiliation of husband, wife or children is not an acceptable part of family life. Abdu’l-Baha disapproved of the corporal punishment of children.” (Dr Moojan Momen, Iran, The Family in Baha’i Faith)


Buddhism is concerned with the welfare of all human beings. The many schools of Buddhism all spring from the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama and reject the infliction of pain and harm on others. Non- violence is an essential tenet of Buddhism and Sigâlovâda Sutta makes the point that if everyone develops compassion, mutual respect, courtesy and loving kindness children will not be ill-treated. This Sutta has been described as the “Buddhist code of discipline”. The Buddha’s advice to parents is clearly to support children to become generous, compassionate and responsible.


There is increasing Christian support for prohibition at national and regional levels. For example, in New Zealand, South Africa and the UK, Christian leaders have actively supported law reform to prohibit all corporal punishment, including in the home. In the USA, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church have adopted policies supporting the prohibition and elimination of corporal punishment in childrearing

and education. In the Caribbean in 2012, Christian leaders from Aruba, the Cayman Islands, Guyana and Jamaica issued a joint statement supporting law reform to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, emphasising that physical punishment is incompatible with core religious values, and stating that attempting to justify corporal punishment with reference to religious texts is inappropriate (see box on page 5).

Christians believe all human beings are created in the likeness and image of God, and they look to the example of Jesus to live their lives. Jesus always treated the vulnerable with love and compassion. The way of Jesus was non-violence. Reading the Bible through the lens of Jesus’ teachings provides a guide for Christians’ lives and relationships with others.

All the recorded encounters between Jesus and children were kind, gentle and respectful. Children were central to the new order Jesus initiated. By blessing and laying his hands on children, Jesus received children as people in their own right; he gave them status, respect and dignity (Mark 10:16).

“There is nothing in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which supports the right of parents to use corporal punishment.”

(Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, 2013)

“I do not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church as we interpret them in 2011 condone corporal punishment. It’s hard for me to imagine in any way, shape or form, Jesus using a paddle. [Social research] is very clear: violence fosters violence.”

(Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Archdiocese of New Orleans, 2011)


“There is no greater good than a child. Children are entrusted to their parents to be loved, guided and protected.... Beating, spanking, pinching, slapping children and inflicting upon their astral bodies the vibration of angry words are all sinfully destructive to their spiritual unfoldment and their future.” (Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, “Spare the Rod and Save the Child”)


A growing number of Muslim leaders have spoken out about the misuse of Islamic texts which appear to promote violence. Eminent Muslims have argued that the Quran teaches tolerance and moderation and that there is no instance in the Quran of Muhammad striking a child. Respected scholars and leaders highlight in their teaching the strong requirement in Islam to show love and mercy towards children and to preserve their human dignity. The Cairo Declaration on the Convention (CRC) and Islamic Jurisprudence, adopted

in 2009, calls for prohibition of corporal punishment in member states of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.

“Participants to the Conference recommend that OIC Member States prohibit all corporal punishment and other cruel and degrading forms of punishment or treatment of children, in all settings including within schools and within the family, linking law reform with the promotion of positive, non-violent forms of discipline.”

(Cairo Declaration on the Convention (CRC) and Islamic Jurisprudence)


Jains aim to practice non-violence in action, speech and thoughts. In Jainism religion and culture have deep-rooted relevance to the development of humankind and to the moral, spiritual and philosophical aspects of life. The Lord Mahavir has preached that equanimity is the Dharma:

“Know that violence is the cause of all miseries in the world. Violence is in fact the knot of bondage. Do not injure any living thing.”


Chesed (kindness), compassion and justice are the classic Jewish values, and the nourishing and protecting of human life is of prime importance in Jewish law.

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.” (Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat, 31a; Tobit 4:15)

“No law of the Jewish Religion decrees physical punishment of children. It stands to reason that modern Jews repudiate all degrading treatment of children.”

(Motern Narrowe, Chief Rabbi Emeritus) 

Our Mission

The MISSION of the Action Team to End Hitting Children is to gather many people to do small jobs for the purpose of diminishing and finally ending the hitting of children. By "htiting" we mean to include beating, spanking, slapping, shaking, popping, and any other form of physical or emotional punishment that demeans the child and creates emotional, mental, and physical harm. Our strategy is to use many people to do small amounts of work that create momentum to make a difference. 

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