2014 Archives

Parents still spank their kids for trivial reasons
even when researchers are listening in


The following are from the April 22, 2014, editions of WFAA News and The Washington Post and concern a study by SMU Psychology Professor George Holden.

Prof. Holden talks to WFAA News

April 24, 2014

By Abby Phillip
The Washington Post

With the culture war over spanking still well underway, you might expect that parents who adhere to the practice are starting to feel the stigma.

If they are, it’s not stopping some of them from doling out discipline with the palm of their hands even when researchers are listening in.

A new study in the American Psychological Association Journal of Family Psychology conducted by researches at Southern Methodist University used audio recording devices to track the behavior of parents with their kids. . .

Southern Methodist University Professor George Holden, the lead on this project, explained that they solicited parents for a study that was specifically focused on recording yelling behavior as it occurred naturally in the home.

They found 56 people willing to participate, and of those, they studied 33. By the time these mothers returned from work and began dealing with their children, worrying about the recorder strapped to their arm was the least of their worries.

“A lot of parents, particularly in the south, think of it as a good technique to use. They were reared that way so they’ve developed this fundamental belief that spanking is the way to teach people right or wrong,” Holden said. “My guess is they weren’t bashful about using it.”

Despite the small sample size in this pilot study, there are some other interesting observations:

  • A majority of the incidents involved breaking social conventions (such as sucking fingers or getting out of a chair) rather than major infractions, like playing with a stove
  • 73 percent of the cases where there was corporal punishment, the child misbehaved again within 10 minutes

Read the full story.

Related Links:


Find an Expert