TV journalist David Schechter with WFAA ABC News 8 covered the research of SMU psychologist George W. Holden about the controversial practice of corporal punishment. His story, “Study: Parents spank kids more often than they admit,” aired April 22.

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

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by David Schechter

New research from Southern Methodist University, based on recordings made of parents using corporal punishment, finds spanking and slapping are often used to punish minor behavior problems and did little to keep the same behavior from happening again — sometimes within 10 minutes.

For his research, Dr. George Holden deliberately chose many families with two working parents. He wanted to test people with real-world stresses.

One key finding was that parents typically under-report how often they spank or slap their children.

Holden, a vocal advocate against corporal punishment, made several audio clips from his research available. On the clips you can hear parents slapping or spanking their children for minor behavior infractions.

“If you hit the child or slap the child, they’re focusing on the punishment — the pain, the upset they felt from it,” Holden explained. “It’s not getting them to reflect on their behavior.”

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Holden 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.

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