The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Council on School Health have issued an updated policy on corporal punishment, released Monday. The statement says spanking in schools should be “abolished in all states by law”

The statement says the use of corporal punishment in schools isn’t “effective or ethical” as a form of behavior management, because it causes harm to students—especially Black students and children with disabilities. Corporal punishment is defined as “the infliction of pain upon a person’s body as punishment,” per the AAP.

Currently, the use of corporal punishment in public schools is legal in 18 states. Though spanking in schools has declined through the years as a tool for punishment, the fact remains that there are still schools who utilize it.

“The aims of this policy statement are to review the incidence of school-based corporal punishment; the negative physical, psychological, and developmental impact of corporal punishment on students; and the need for continued advocacy by pediatricians, educators, and parents to abolish corporal punishment in all schools,” the AAP statement reads.

Although 96% of public schools say they no longer strike students, nearly 70,000 students a year are struck “at least once by school personnel,” the statement says. Corporal punishment is also most widely used in the South.

The updated policy statement aligns with the “Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children,” policy, which provides evidence to support the recommendation that “adults caring for children use healthy forms of discipline, such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations.”

The AAP recommends “that parents do not use spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating, or shaming.”

The AAP says Black girls in the U.S. are three times as likely to be struck at school compared to white girls. Black boys are twice as likely to receive physical punishment compared to white boys.

Children with disabilities are also struck at higher rates than students without disabilities in more than half of the schools practicing corporal punishment between 2013 and 2014, according to a 2019 report by the Civil Rights Project. Fourteen percent of children and adolescents age 3 through 21 years are identified as having a disability, defined by receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“This isn’t acceptable — all children need to feel safe to learn,” lead author Dr. Mandy Allison, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colorado, said in a statement to CNN.

“While a child or teen might become fearful, obedient and quote ‘get in line,’ that’s only in the short term after being struck,” Allison said. “Research shows corporal punishment does not improve behavior over the long term, is not an effective means of discipline and does not foster a positive learning environment and supportive school climate.”

Corporal punishment is still legal in public schools in the following states: Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee.