Minnesota Post: Parents often spank out of anger and for trivial reasons, real-time study finds

Minnesota Post, Holden, spanking, corporal punishment, Susan Perry, SMU

Journalist Susan Perry with the Minnesota Post covered the research of SMU psychologist George W. Holden about the controversial practice of corporal punishment. The article, “Parents often spank out of anger and for trivial reasons, real-time study finds,” published April 18.

Holden, an expert in families and child development, is a founding member of the U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, endhittingusa.org.

He was recently elected president of Dallas’ oldest child abuse prevention agency, Family Compass.

Most recently Holden’s research found that children misbehaved within 10 minutes of being spanked and that parents don’t follow the guidelines for spanking that pro-spanking advocates claim are necessary for spanking to be effective.

Other recent 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.

Read the full story.

EXCERPT:

By Susan Perry
Minnesota Post

Parents spank their children much more often than they admit and for trivial misbehaviors, suggest the just-published results of a study based on real-time home audio recordings.

The study also found that parents tend to strike their children out of anger and quite quickly after the children misbehaved — in other words, not as last resort.

Furthermore, the spanking doesn’t work. The children in the study who were hit or slapped by their parents typically misbehaved again within 10 minutes.

“From the audio, we heard parents hitting their children for the most extraordinarily mundane offenses, typically violations of social conventions,” said George Holden, the study’s lead researcher and a parenting and child development expert at Southern Methodist University, in a statement released with the study. “Also, corporal punishment wasn’t being used as a last resort. On average, parents hit or spanked just half a minute after the conflict began.”

If these findings sound familiar, it’s because Holden collected the data for this study a couple of years ago and publicly reported on them at that time. The findings were not officially published, however, until Monday, when they appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Given the wide acceptance of parental corporal punishment in the United States, it seems important to highlight these findings again. Surveys suggest that as many as 80 percent of American parents use spanking to discipline their children, even, as inconceivable as it may sound, with infants.

Read the full story.

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