He was recently elected president of Dallas’ oldest child abuse prevention agency, Family Compass.
Most recently his research showed that parents who favor spanking changed their minds after they were briefly exposed to summaries of research detailing the negative impact of corporal punishment on children. Holden, who considers spanking a public health problem, said the research indicates that parents’ attitudes about spanking could economically, quickly and effectively be changed to consider alternative disciplinary methods.
Holden’s earlier research provided 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.
Regardless of the culture a child lives in, corporal punishment may do lasting psychological harm, German researchers say.
In a new study conducted in Tanzania, where physical punishment is considered normal, primary school students who were beaten by teachers or family members in the name of discipline tended to show more behavior problems, not fewer, the researchers found.
“Parents aim to educate children through corporal punishment, but instead of learning good social behaviors, the beatings often have the opposite effect,” said Tobias Hecker, a psychologist at the University of Konstanz, who led the study.
“Some people still believe, despite an overwhelming body of evidence, that corporal punishment in some cultures won’t result in as many negative effects,” George Holden told Reuters Health.
“But, as this study shows, it’s difficult to find support for that argument,” said Holden, a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who was not involved in the study.
Past research, mainly in industrialized countries, has found that children and teens who experience corporal punishment may “externalize” their negative experiences in the form of bad behavior and emotional problems, Hecker and his colleagues write in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.
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