Paddling still legal in public schools in 19 states, but research has shown corporal punishment is damaging to child

The New York Daily News quoted SMU Psychology Professor George W. Holden for his expertise on spanking in an article about a Georgia principal paddling a 5-year-old boy as punishment. The paddling was caught on video and went viral on the Internet by viewers who were horrified and shocked.

The article, “Shocking viral video of 5-year-old boy being paddled shines light on legal but ‘damaging’ corporal punishment,” published April 15, 2016.

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,

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.

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By Laura Bult
New York Daily News

Horrified viewers watched video of a Georgia principal paddling a 5-year-old boy as punishment — a legal but controversial action that has sparked a conversation about the effects of corporal punishment on children.

It is still legal to strike kids as a form of punishment in public schools in 19 states, primarily in the south and the west, despite research and experts’ views that it amounts to child abuse.

“I suspect this thing happens a lot. A lot of paddling goes on in small towns in Texas, and particularly in southern states,” George Holden, the chair of the psychology department at Southern Methodist University and the president of the U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, told the Daily News.

The practice persists primarily in the south because of the heavy influence of religion, Holden added.

Students in states where it is legal received swats, spanks and slaps 166,807 times in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the most recent federal data.

Corporal punishment is protected by a 1977 Supreme Court decision, which ruled that physical discipline in schools didn’t violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Shana Marie Perez’s viral video showing her son getting punished by Jasper County Primary School principal Pam Edge as the assistant principal held him down was lawful, but disturbed many opponents of the archaic practice.

“Corporal punishment is potentially damaging to children, it’s not the best way to deal with them and it’s also a violation of their right not to be hit,” Holden fumed, saying that giving children painful punishments teaches them to be violent and often results in depression and anxiety.

“If the adult is hitting a child, they learn to hit other children if they’re upset or angry,” he said.

Perez claimed the school threatened her son with suspension if she didn’t agree to the punishment and that she could get sent to jail for truancy for having already withheld him from school for 18 days that school year.

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