SMU psychologist and child development expert George Holden commented about the dangers of spanking for an article on corporal punishment in The Christian Science Monitor

George Holden, spanking, corporal punishment, Christian Science Monitor

Reporter Stephanie Hanes for The Christian Science Monitor interviewed SMU psychologist and child development expert George W. Holden for his perspective on corporal punishment. Holden, a noted expert on the dangers of corporal punishment, is a leader of the nation’s anti-spanking movement.

Hanes’ Oct. 19 article, “To spank or not to spank: Corporal punishment in the US,” explores the controversial practice of corporal punishment in the context of the Adrian Peterson case.

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

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.

Read the full story.


By Stephanie Hanes
The Christian Science Monitor

The way corporal punishment evolved in Sandy Haase’s family is, in many ways, typical. Growing up in Orange County, in California, in the 1960s, Ms. Haase knew what would happen if her father got angry. If she or one of her siblings talked back, or perhaps turned on the TV when they were not supposed to do so, “it was ‘Go and get the yardstick,’ ” she says.

The “spankings” that would follow, she says, were angry, severe, and scary. One instance left her in need of bandages. When she had children of her own, she and her husband agreed that they would use spanking only as a last resort.

Which is what they did, recalls her 22-year-old son, Colin.

“Looking at it now, I don’t see it as a negative thing,” he says. He describes his and his sister’s upbringing as warm and loving, with spanking only a very minor part of childhood: “It helped me. It set me straight when I wasn’t listening to words.”

Still, he says, he does not think he will spank his own children when he has them.

For her part, Sandy Haase expresses ambivalence about it.


A few recent studies, however, have questioned those early 2000s connections between corporal punishment and race. Prof. George Holden of Southern Methodist University in Dallas says that the difference in attitudes and outcomes is socioeconomic and regional rather than racial. Other studies show that families with more children tend to spank more. And, as with just about everything in the research about corporal punishment, the effect attributed to spanking depends on how numbers are crunched and interpreted. […]

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