By Jack Fink

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Eddie Reeves doesn’t shy away from it: as a child, he says his mother spanked him with switches or tree branches.

“Dozens and dozens of times, I can’t count. I don’t know anybody‎ I grew up with, nobody who didn’t get spanked with switches, who didn’t have those kinds of marks or worse. They’re people who’ve become successful members of society. I’m talking about doctors, lawyers.”

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Reeves, owns a public relations and marketing firm, The Reeves Strategy Group in Dallas and has two children. He says discipline is necessary — especially when you consider recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Part of what scares African-American parents of African-American males to death is something like that. What y‎ou want to instill in them is respect for authority and stay within in the bright lines of that authority even when it’s unfair.”

Reeves and other parents we spoke with, including Mary Valenzuela of Dallas, say running back Adrian Peterson went too far. The Minnesota Vikings star has  been indicted for hitting his four-year-old son with a switch. We found Valenzuela playing with her two-year-old son at Kiest Park in Dallas. She says she wasn’t hit with a switch growing up, but says her parents spanked her with their hands or sometimes a belt.

Valenzuela says spanking a child with a hand is okay, but she says she would shy away from using a belt to discipline her son. “I probably wouldn’t use it because I didn’t like it when I was a kid.”

Experts like Sylvia Gearing, a Plano child psychologist, says, “A lot of psychologists say you can’t spank bad behavior away. It just leads to more problems.”

Gearing says spanking with switches is a southern custom, but says in general, physical punishment is not effective.

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“Physical punishment does not cause compliance in the moment always and the child may repeat the behavior so there’s an escalation, I’m going to switch you harder next time so that’s the danger for the parent. They don’t realize they get out of control too.”

Reeves believes the Peterson case is a teachable moment for parents across the country. “We can learn for better ways, more effective ways and safer ways to discipline our children and control our families and hopefully, that comes out of this.”

Gearing says a more effective way of disciplining a child is to remove them from a situation, such as giving them a time out or taking away privileges. She says that’s because the child has more time to think about what he or she did wrong, without being shocked by the physical punishment.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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