SMU Study Shows Many Parents Still Spank Kids

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A study conducted in North Texas shows that many mothers spank their children, and researchers say many of the reasons for those spankings are relatively minor disciplinary issues.

Dr. George Holden, Psychologist and Professor in the Psychology Department at Southern Methodist University says he initially set out to examine parents who yell at their children.  But early evaluation of audio tapes showed that the parents who admitted yelling at their children also spanked them.

READ MORE – SMU Research: Sounds of corporal punishment

“We’re finding a lot of variability.  Some parents slapped once.  One parent hit the child 11 times in a row” says Holden.

Holden admits he is opposed to any form of corporal punishment and he says virtually all experts say it is not beneficial to spank children.  This study examined parents who have children between the ages of two and five years old.  Holden says this is the first study evaluating spanking in which audio recordings were used to document the events taking place in the home.

In one recording a mother is heard reading to her child.  Holden says the child touches the book and tries to turn the page when the parent slaps the child.  In another recording you hear a mother putting a child to bed and hitting the child.  


Holden says the third recording involves two parents who hit a child who is about to touch a stove that is not turned on.

Holden says he believes any children who are being aggressive with a sibling or a parent should not be spanked.  “Using aggression on the part of the parent to deal with child aggression is just modeling the same type of behavior you don’t want to see” says Holden.

  • YRofTexas

    Anarchy begins at the home!
    Outlaw all forms of discipline!
    Lawlessness must reign!

    Politically correctness in the home just ain’t the answer. Government’s Big Bro needs to mind his own business and leave the Parents to do the Parenting!

    Disciplining teaches the child to learn boundaries of good vr. poor behavior. It gets their attention and they learn self-discipline and emotional control. Remember that it isn’t the IQ that makes the successful person, its the a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) that helps the child to grow into a mature adult.

  • te

    I would hate to see this “experts children”! Has he ever been to his local schools and seen the children? There he will see just how undisciplined (non spanked) children really behave. Leave the parenting to parents!!! True some children do not need to be spanked. But when the need arise… all means take out the belt.

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  • NiteNurse

    I grew up in the 60s and 70s. My parents would utilized two forms of punishment one was punishment and the other taking away privledges. I much rather prefered the spanking, it was quick and over with, and taught me very little. When my parents took my privledges away and made me pull weeds, or sweep out the garage I learned the consequences of my actions. Bottom line; You have to really know your kid and what works on them.

    • 2sister

      I don’t disapprove of spanking if it is not over done and not abusive. I do, however, agree that a spanking isn’t always the best form of punishment. It depends on the child and the age of the child. If the child is old enough to prefer a spanking to some other type of punishment, then they are probably to old to be spanked and another more of discipline should be used.

  • nwilson

    That is what is wrong with our schools today. Too many parents coddle their children. Children need to know right from wrong and need boundaries set for them. I agree hitting a child repeatedly is not appropriate, but when a child decides to throw themselves on a stove or act in a manner that needs to be addressed, then a parent needs to step up and be a parent, not a friend. I, too, would hate to see the experts children. Could be one of those in private school who all the other parents wish they had been disciplined at home.

  • cc brown

    Aren’t we tired of bogus experts without children wasting our money and time with their meaningless studies. First of all that’s what’s wrong with children now, they aren’t diciplined and they are wild, disrespectful and out of control. I guess medication is suppose to fix that…wrong. People do children an injustice by not implimenting corporate punishment when needed. That’s why the frickin prisons are full of undisciplined men and women, and the number is growning. Do a study on that sir.

    • NiteNurse

      I think there are people who really aren’t meant to be parents. It does take allot of time and effort to parent a kid. I think any form of physical punishment is demeaning to a child. I certainly remember that each time I got a spanking it made me feel worthless and less then human. That if anything taught me that violence doesn’t teach or solve anything. Thanks Mom and Dad!

  • fred

    I would much rather go to jail now for spanking my kid, then to let him go to jail in the future because I did not.

    • NiteNurse

      News flash jails are filled with people who were physically abused as children as a way of discipline.

      • 2sister

        There is a difference is spanking and beating a child. A small swat is not abuse. Beating a child till they are black in blue is abuse, and it is not a spanking.

  • John

    What is needed is teaching people when and how spanking is needed. As Police office I’ve noticed most people get in trouble were not sure what is acceptable. In the end I would rather see a child spanked than end up in jail.

  • ruhig

    I have seen the effect of a spanked child vs. a non spanked child, and the spank child turned it the better adult. My oldest neice’s parents wouldn’t spank her. they felt time outs and taking thing away where better because of what people like this so called expert say. For their trouble, they had an unmanagable child and now an unmanagable 16 year old. She has no understanding of right and wrong and is currently in jail (for get about school). We keep waiting for the call saying she is dead or has killed someone. However, my other neice has been a spanked child. She is polite, does well in school and has never been in any major trouble.
    I myself was a spanked child and i have never been in trouble, always did well in school, was the first in my family to go to college, have a BA and am working on a Masters degree. My cousins whose parents told mine they were crazy for spanking me, their kids ended up dropping out of school becomming teen parents and heavy drug users. Hmmmmm…… much for the experts.

    • 2sister

      I can’t say for sure, but I wonder if the niece who wasn’t spanked had consistent rules and discipline? Also, did they look at the child and figure out what discipline approach worked for her? Many times parents don’t do those kinds of things and that’s where the real problem lies. I was spanked as a child, but I also had other forms of discipline used on me. You have to have consistent rules and boundaries. You also have to use discipline techniques that are affective with that child. Most children probably do respond to a small swat, but sometimes parents have to use other forms of discipline. Also, the age of the child should also decide the form of punishment. It’s also sometimes helpful to use a discipline technique that relates to what the child has done. For example if you abuse a privilege, you lose that privilege.

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  • Timothy Jones

    You must know that this study had to be very biased. I bet they did not take a sampling of every type of cultural background, geography etc. My Father and Mother beat the brakes off me when I did things I knew were wrong before I did them. To this day I thank them, I have never been in trouble, in jail, or arrested, no tried any drugs. I am a very productive member of society, a tax payer, and ex-military now working in the medical field in a very important area. Time out only works in sports, not raising your child. I like to slap the person who came up with the time out method, and the person who first called CPS, because they never got over getting spankings. If you want to tell a parent not to spank their child then you take responsibility of them when they break someone’s window, wreck a car, hurt someone by being stupid, because they know all they will get is a freaking TIME-OUT!!!!!! Time out are for people who want to be friends with their kids, instead of being their PARENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • TheVal

    Just because you don’t spank your child, doesn’t mean your child is growing up without discipline. There are so many forms of discipline that do not involve physically striking a child. There are lots of children who have never been spanked and are well behaved, know right from wrong, etc. I urge everyone to educate themselves on this subject because study after study is proving that spanking virtually has no better effect on discipline than other methods yet has a lot more negative effects on the kids. The great thing is we can all parent the way we choose independent of how we were raised or others opinions.

  • C Bauer

    I got spanked when I was little, and I’m glad I did. My kid will be spanked when bad as well. Not BEATEN, but SPANKED. Those “experts” can take their idiotic psychobabble and cram it.

  • Rick McDaniel

    When government, steps in to say you cannot have the right to discipline a child, then it is time to give the child to the government, and have no others.

    There has NEVER BEEN a child that did not, periodically at least, require some discipline, in the form of spanking, just to make them tolerable to live with.

    • NiteNurse

      A parent uses spanking when they are too lazy to spend time parenting.

      • Jeff D Johnson

        No. There are children that time outs and removing privilages or taking things away from does nothing to discipline. Each child is different. And to try and lump them all into one category of diciplinary style is stupid.

  • Jeff D Johnson

    And I love how these studies only show the parents that are abusive in what they call spanking. In reading the article it sounds like they were equating a parent slapping a child as being spanking. And that is idiotic. Some parents are just plain abusive. There is a huge difference in the two.

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  • TealRose

    I am … disgusted .. and shocked. That adults .. would think that hitting a child, yes hitting because that is what spanking is, is ok or right! It belongs in the dark ages along with wife beating and raping of small toddlers in Ancient Rome.

    How come that teaching a child how to grow into a decent, gentle responsible adult should involve hitting it – when adults, animals and even criminals are safe under the law from being hit?

    One strike, is one strike too many. I am 56 and was spanked – and my parents lost me, my love, respect and trust. Why would I trust or respect someone who hits me? All I learned, was fear, pain, anger, hate and resentment, and that my parents didn’t love me. And no, turning to someone after you have just HIT them and saying ‘oh by the way we love you ‘ didn’t mean a thing to me. Try saying that to your wife, or the teller in the bank …

    I didn’t hit my children – I taught them and helped them learn, and no it wasn’t easy. But now as adults they are gentle and fine and I have grandchildren that are a joy to be around.

    Hitting is abusive … to me, you, the dog, or the criminal – why should it be any different for a defenceless child???

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