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No Hit Zone

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Cook Children's is beginning the implementation of a No Hit Zone project.

If a location is designated as a No Hit Zone, this means no one is allowed to hit anyone else. This includes adults hitting adults, children hitting children or anyone hitting staff. It also includes parents spanking their children as a form of discipline.

Hitting and disruptive behaviors put our staff in a difficult situation. They can also lead to more physical and aggressive behaviors. By adopting the No Hit Zone program, we can ensure the safety of both our staff and our patient families.

The No Hit Zone program was originally created at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in 2005 and has since been adopted by more than 30 hospitals nationwide.

We're here to help.

We recognize that having a child who is sick or in pain can be a stressful situation. It can be difficult to cope with a child's injury or extended illness and that may make people tense.

If a staff member witnesses a stressful or violent situation or one where violence could occur, they may intervene. Our staff has been trained to handle these types of stressful situations. They will act with kindness, nonjudgment and empathy to help cope with the situation in a healthy way.

We suggest that in a stressful situation, you:

  • Show your child how to behave.
  • Provide a distraction, like a toy.
  • Play a game.
  • Go for a walk.

When you talk to your child:

  • Lower your voice.
  • Sit/kneel so you are at your child's eye level.
  • Give simple instructions.
  • Praise/reinforce desired behaviors.

Oftentimes frustration can build if caregivers have unrealistic expectations for a child at a specific developmental stage. This can be made even worse when in a stressful situation, like a hospital visit.

Discipline tips broken down by a child's age

It is estimated that 60% of child physical abuse begins with physical punishment. Young children are at greatest risk for physical abuse and death from physical abuse.

How physical punishment can affect a child's development

We understand that being a parent is tough. We want you to know that you are not alone.

Information and resources on positive parenting tips

What is the goal of becoming a No Hit Zone?

By adopting this policy, we hope to:

  • Assist in lowering the frequency of disruptive behaviors in a medical setting.
  • Assist in maintaining a safe and caring atmosphere for patients, families and staff.
  • Elevate the standard of care in all places where children interact with health care workers.
  • Follow evidence-based best-practice standards for developmentally appropriate discipline strategies.

Interested in becoming a No Hit Zone? Find more information here.

Frequently asked questions about the No Hit Zone initiative:

Physical punishment of children is legal. How can a hospital policy prohibit hitting children?

Smoking is legal, but prohibited in public places where exposure to secondhand smoke threatens the health of others. Exposure to violence threatens the health of our staff and patient families.

Are you saying that Cook Children's won't treat children who are physically punished by their parents?

No. Positive education on child development, effective discipline techniques and communication skills will be offered to families as a healthier ways to cope with stressful situations.

Why should a Cook Children's staff member comment on how parents discipline their children?

Educating parents about threats to their child's health is something we often do in the hospital setting. The evidence is clear that hitting children is neither safe, nor effective, and can damage a child's health long-term. It is our responsibility as health care providers to model evidence-based best practices for the overall health of the children in our community.

Is spanking really the same thing as hitting?

Yes. Whatever we call it – spank, pop, whip, whup, pinch, paddle, switch, beat, thump, smack – it's still hitting.

Learn more about the No Hit Zone initiative