The AOL Lifestyle news magazine Parentdish, in addition to and The Washington Post have all 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.

AOL Lifestyle reporter Tom Henderson on the parentdish blog wrote “Study Attempts Accurate Portrait of Spanking”:

By Tom Henderson
AOL Parentdish

Sometimes you have to smack a kid.

Sure, some liberal hippie parents pitch a fit whenever a kid is spanked, but on the front lines of parenthood, you can’t afford to go soft.

Do you want your kid to grow up to some kind of … of … page toucher?

You know the type. They go around touching the pages of books you are trying to read to them. Better a slap on the tuckus now than to let them grow up some kind of social miscreant.

At least one mother — involved in a research project at Southern Methodist University in Dallas — understands that. Some 40 parents were asked to make audio recordings of their daily interactions with their children.

Researchers didn’t exactly come right out and say this (because they wanted parents to act naturally), but they really wanted to find out how parents spank their children and raise their voices.

The tale of the tape says a lot. Take the Curious Case of the Terrible Toucher.

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On the award winning online magazine, psychotherapist and reporter Heather Turgeon reported in the site’s Stroller Derby column “Do Most Parents Spank or Hit Their Kids?”

By Heather Turgeon

Most parents spank their kids — I was truly surprised to hear this statement today, via an article in’s Healthland. Was I naive in thinking that with all our focus on child-centered parenting philosophies and positive discipline, that spanking was solidly out of style?

Not so, says George Holden, a professor of psychology who is now analyzing data on a new study in which he captured video of parents hitting their children — all voluntary participants who agreed to have their daily lives and interactions taped.

His earlier research found that 70 percent of college educated women spank their kids. That data was from the 1990’s, but writer Bonnie Rochman reports for Time that some studies have shown up to 90 percent of parents use corporal punishment.

Some of the examples from Holden’s current study were shocking: for example a woman hitting her toddler and saying “This is to help you remember not to hit your mother.”

“The irony is just amazing,” said Holden.

Are most parents really hitting their kids? What’s happening here?

According to Holden, parents who spank do it because they think it works. In the short term, sure swatting a child for touching the electrical outlets will probably make that child less likely to do that exact action again in the near future. But in the long run, of course (and I thought we all knew this?) what it really demonstrates is that physical aggression is an acceptable tool for expressing yourself. Why wouldn’t you expect a child to go straight out and use that too herself later on?

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The Washington Post’s On Parenting blog wrote:

The Washington Post

Small infractions, like turning the page of a book too early, often led parents to hit their children, says research by psychologist George Holden on spanking. Holden, the author of five books on parenting and child development, says spanking works in the short term, but has the long-term consequence of teaching children aggression.

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