ABC News, CBS News, Dallas Observer and other outlets have covered the corporal punishment research of SMU psychologist George W. Holden, a professor in the SMU Psychology Department, and Paul Williamson, an SMU doctoral student in psychology.

The research provides a unique real-time look at spanking in a way that’s never before been studied. In a study of 37 families, mothers voluntarily recorded their evening interactions with their young children over the course of six days, including incidents of corporal punishment, said Holden.

ABC News show Good Morning America reporter Susan Donaldson James reported “Parents Caught Spanking Children on Audiotape Real Time.”

By Susan Donaldson James
ABC News

Researcher George Holden set off to study how often parents yelled at their children, but after listening to 36 hours of real-time audiotapes he heard something else; the cracks of spanking and the screams that followed.

Most of the behavioral incidents were “petty” in nature, according Holden, a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University in Texas, but the punishment was “virtually all highly inappropriate.”

In one incident recorded on tape, a mother spanked her 3-year-old 11 times for fighting with his sister and the boy is reduced to tears and coughing. One child was punished for not cleaning his room. Another was slapped for being overzealous during a bedtime story by pointing and turning the page.

“They were pretty shocking,” said Holden, who has written five books on child development.

“They highlight that so much of corporal punishment are misguided notions of parenting that are bad for the child,” he said. “It’s sad that a parent inadvertently ruins the quality of their relationship by jumping on the child for being a normal kid.”

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Reporter Stephanie Lucero at CBS News local affiliate Channel 11 aired a segment about the research titled “SMU Study Shows Many Parents Still Spank Kids.”

By Stephanie Lucero
CBS News

A study conducted in North Texas shows that many mothers spank their children, and researchers say many of the reasons for those spankings are relatively minor disciplinary issues.

Dr. George Holden, Psychologist and Professor in the Psychology Department at Southern Methodist University says he initially set out to examine parents who yell at their children. But early evaluation of audio tapes showed that the parents who admitted yelling at their children also spanked them.

“We’re finding a lot of variability. Some parents slapped once. One parent hit the child 11 times in a row,” says Holden.

Holden admits he is opposed to any form of corporal punishment and he says virtually all experts say it is not beneficial to spank children. This study examined parents who have children between the ages of two and five years old. Holden says this is the first study evaluating spanking in which audio recordings were used to document the events taking place in the home.

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The Dallas Observer’s Robert Wilonsky also covered the research with his article “The Spanking Study: SMU Prof Allowed to Listen In as Dallas Parents Discipline Kids.”

By Robert Wilonsky
Dallas Observer

SMU psychology professor George Holden spends most of his time “understanding the determinants and significance of the parent-child relationship in development,” says his Hilltop curriculum vitae, which is loaded with books and studies on the subject. Among the suggested-reading list: “Children’s Assessments of Corporal Punishment and Other Disciplinary Practices: The Role of Age, Race, SES, and Exposure to Spanking,” published last year.

But Holden’s likely to garner significant attention for his latest look-see at spanking: “Real Life Mother-Child Interaction in the Home,” made possible after “36 mothers and one father at Dallas day care centers agreed to leave a tape running between the time they got home and put the kids to bed,” according to Good Morning America but moments ago. They then turned over the tapes to the prof, who makes some of the audio available on the other side; says Holden, some of the tapes — including what you hear after the jump — “were pretty shocking.”

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