“There are hundreds of studies finding that children who are spanked more are more likely to show a variety of problems,” — SMU parenting expert George Holden

SMU Psychology Professor George W. Holden, psychology, and Michael Farris, president of ParentalRights.Org, debated opposite sides of the controversial question “Should parents be allowed to practice corporal punishment?” The debate aired Sept. 25 on NBC’s Meet the Press: Make the Case.

Holden is a leading expert on parenting, discipline and family violence. He strongly advocates against corporal punishment and cites overwhelming research, including his own, that has demonstrated that spanking is not only ineffective, but also harmful to children, and many times leads to child abuse.

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.

His work, into the determinants of parental behavior, parental social cognition, and the causes and consequences of family violence, has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, The Timberlawn Research Foundation, and, most recently, the U.S. State Department.

Watch the debate.

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