Television talk show host Anderson Cooper invited SMU psychologist George W. Holden to weigh in recently on the wisdom and effectiveness of spanking as a way to discipline children.

Holden, an expert in child development, has done research that 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.

A professor in the SMU Psychology Department, Holden is a leading advocate for abolishing corporal punishment in schools and homes and led organization of the 2011 Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline in Dallas.

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

See excerpts and transcripts from the show segment.


Anderson Cooper 360
Approximately 70-90% of parents use spanking as a disciplinary tactic, says Dr. Holden, Professor of Psychology at Southern Methodist University. This is especially concerning, says Holden, because he’s convinced that any form of hitting a child, whether it be slapping or spanking, is wrong.

“Does this actually make kids more obedient?” asks Anderson.

“It doesn’t,” says Holden, who has studied the effects of spanking for years. “It’s undermining. One-hundred-fifty years ago in this country, husbands were hitting wives when the wives were disobedient,” says Holden. “We now think that’s shocking, and we’d never allow that anymore. I’d like to suggest that us hitting kids is the same thing. We’re assaulting children. They have a right not to be hit.”

See excerpts and transcripts from the show segment.

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