Between 70 percent and 90 percent of Americans admit to using some form of physical force when disciplining their kids.
Journalist Geetika Rudra with ABC News covered the research of SMU psychologist George W. Holden about the controversial practice of corporal punishment. Her story, “Adrian Peterson Case Brings Scrutiny to Child Spanking,” aired Sept. 14.
Holden, an expert in families and child development, is a founding member of the U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, endhittingusa.org.
Holden was recently elected president of Dallas’ oldest child abuse prevention agency, Family Compass.
Most recently Holden’s research, “Real-time audio of corporal punishment,” 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, “Parents less likely to spank,” 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, “Corporal punishment: Mother’s self-recorded audio,” 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.
By Geetika Rudra
The pending child abuse case against Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson has brought spanking, a common form of child discipline used by parents, back into public scrutiny.
“By the the time they reach adolescence, 85 percent of the nation’s children will have been, at one point or another, spanked,” Dr. Alan Kazdin, a psychologist at Yale University told ABC News. The figure comes from a 2003 study in which Kazdin investigated the use of spanking in disciplining children.
And between 70 percent and 90 percent of Americans admit to using some form of physical force when disciplining their kids, according to Southern Methodist University psychology professor George Holden.
“Physical punishment is extremely common for young children,” Holden told ABC News. “It’s very common in the United States.”
Kazdin’s 2003 study defines spanking as “hitting a child with an open hand on the buttocks or extremities with the intent to discipline without leaving a bruise or causing physical harm.”
But while spanking is prevalent, it is ineffective, Kazdin said.
“You don’t need spanking to change behavior,” Kazdin said. “It is not effective at all. It increases aggression in children, has emotional consequences.”
The line between spanking and more serious physical abuse is often muddled by theoretical and practical definitions, Kazdin said.
His study defines physical abuse as “corporal punishment that is harsh and excessive, involves the use of objects … is directed to other parts of the body than the extremities, and causes or has the potential to cause physical harm.”
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