USA Today in an April 22 article “Despite opposition, paddling students allowed in 19 states” interviewed SMU psychologist George W. Holden about the controversial practice of corporal punishment.

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

Most recently he’s 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, 2011 with The Lightner Sams Foundation Child Advocate Award presented by Mental Health America of Greater Dallas.

Read the full story.


By Alison Bath
USA Today

The details about what led to Trey Clayton being paddled by the assistant principal of his Mississippi high school are in dispute, but there is no question about what happened moments after the March 2011 incident.

Just steps out of the office, Trey fainted. The 14-year-old’s resulting fall — face first onto the concrete floor — split his chin open, fractured his jaw and shattered five teeth, says Trey’s attorney, Joseph Murray.

Corporal punishment — typically swats with a wooden paddle on the backside of a student — is banned in most of the nation. However, 19 states, mostly in the South, still allow it, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that seeks to abolish corporal punishment in U.S. schools. …

… That use of corporal punishment is rooted in a strong Bible Belt belief in the proverbial “spare the rod and spoil the child,” says George Holden, a Southern Methodist University psychology professor. It’s reinforced by Southern sensibilities that favor obedience and respect for authority, he says.

“Most people were spanked when they were kids, and they think that’s the proper way to discipline,” says Holden, chairman of the 2011 Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline. “They make the erroneous correlation that spanking equals good discipline and if a child isn’t behaving, he must not have been spanked enough — that’s fallacious.”

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