USA Today: Beating video sparks talks on discipline of children

USA Today reporter Sharon Jayson interviewed SMU psychologist George W. Holden for an article about the Texas judge who beat his disabled daughter for illegally downloading music on the Internet. Holden is an expert in families and child development.

A professor in the SMU Psychology Department, Holden is a leading advocate for abolishing corporal punishment in schools and homes and recently led organization of the Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline.

For his outstanding dedication and service to the mental health needs of children and adolescents, Holden will be honored Sept. 21 with The Lightner Sams Foundation Child Advocate Award presented by Mental Health America of Greater Dallas.

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EXCERPT:

By Sharon Jayson
USA Today

A video of a Texas judge punishing his daughter has led to investigations of the belt-wielding father and also launched a national conversation about discipline and spanking.

The graphic video of Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams hitting his then-16-year-old daughter for seven minutes as discipline for her use of an illegal computer file-sharing program has been viewed on YouTube more than 2.4 million times. Hillary Adams, now 23, posted the 2004 video.

Her father issued a statement saying she posted it after he threatened to end her financial support.
Local police and a state judicial panel are investigating, the Associated Press reported.

“This sort of voyeurism is an interesting situation, because the tape was surreptitiously made by the daughter,” psychologist George Holden says. “People may find it fascinating too because spanking is part of our culture, but this is clearly an incident where it’s gone way, way wrong.”

Holden, of Southern Methodist University, says he is launching a new organization, the U.S. Alliance to End Hitting of Children.
“What that father did is pretty horrific and it’s clearly not discipline,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas-Austin. “If that judge had done that to any other person … he would have gone to jail.”

She says the father wasn’t teaching a lesson but releasing anger.

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SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see www.smu.edu.

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.

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