Spanking and hitting will not be tolerated at Madison’s children’s hospital under a new initiative announced by UW Health.

American Family Children’s Hospital is now a “no hit zone,” meaning that no hitting of any kind is allowed by adults or children. UW Health plans to expand the zone to its other facilities.

“I’m thrilled that UW Health is partnering with the district attorney’s office to create violence free surroundings for both children and adults,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.“The ‘no hit zone’ helps parents understand the detrimental outcomes associated with the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline.”

“Most adults were spanked or hit as children,” said Dr. Barbara Knox, medical director of the UW Health Child Protection Program and associate professor of pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “But years of research tells us that hitting hurts in a variety of ways and on many levels. Additionally, it can lead to the physical abuse of children.”

Research indicates that children who experience violence are at a higher risk of physical and mental health problems as adults, and children who have been physically punished might have difficulty forming healthy attachments and might not be able to trust other people.

Signs will be placed in UW Health facilities and staff are being trained in distraction and de-escalation techniques.