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Can Pediatrics Convince Black Parents to Stop Spanking?


Dr Stacey Patton, author of Spare the Child, write a recent article in Dame Magazine where she explores “How do pediatricians plan to open Black folks up to discussions about cortisol, oxytocin, adverse childhood experiences, epigenetics, trauma bonding, and alternatives to hitting?”

Dr. Patton addresses the huge historical question around the legacy of medicine and its mistreatment of Black folks including children:

“The first hurdle is the sordid history of the medical system exploiting and experimenting on Black bodies of all ages, resulting in a deeply rooted suspicion of any advice or treatment aimed at Black people. The pediatrics specialty, which was established in the late 19th century, has a long history of abusing Black infants and children. Leading pediatric journals are full of racist studies that called for sterilizing Black children. Doctors would describe Black children as hypersexual beasts that needed to be sterilized. There was a morbid fixation on their genitals, intense debates about why newborn babies had Black skin, theories that Black children had small brains that closed up during adolescence, and that Black girls experienced early puberty because they were precocious and racially inferior.

From the time of its founding as a medical specialty, pediatrics moved through the language of race and racism. The profession has never reckoned with this past. But Black folks have not forgotten. From these atrocities to the Tuskegee experiments to the cells of Henrietta Lacks, Black America has ample reason for suspicion and distrust.

So the question from Black Americans becomes: You’ve racialized, abused, and demonized our children and now you want to tell us how to raise them? Your science is white people shit.”

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