Corporal punishment in the United States remains controversial. But for SMU Psychology Professor George Holden, there is no debate. Based on his own research and that of other parenting and child development experts, Holden wants to end spanking as a means of discipline. He spoke about the issue on Anderson Cooper’s talk show in November.
His quest to teach parents alternatives to spanking prompted him to organize the Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline, held in June in Dallas. More than 140 researchers, attorneys, social activists and child advocates from 21 countries attended the conference. They unanimously adopted a proclamation calling for an end to all corporal punishment.
“Children who are spanked are more likely to be aggressive toward other children and adults,” Holden says. “Over the long term they are at risk for a variety of mental health problems.” In fact, the majority of physical child abuse cases begin as a disciplinary encounter, he adds.