UNIVERSITY PARK New research from Southern Methodist University, based on recordings made of parents using corporal punishment, finds spanking and slapping are often used to punish minor behavior problems and did little to keep the same behavior from happening again sometimes within 10 minutes.
For his research, Dr. George Holden deliberately chose many families with two working parents. He wanted to test people with real-world stresses.
One key finding was that parents typically under-report how often they spank or slap their children.
Holden, a vocal advocate against corporal punishment, made several audio clips from his research available. On the clips you can hear parents slapping or spanking their children for minor behavior infractions.
'If you hit the child or slap the child, they're focusing on the punishment the pain, the upset they felt from it,' Holden explained. 'It's not getting them to reflect on their behavior.'
Holden said that because of the way the brain develops, small children often do not have the ability to control their impulses. Using corporal punishment against small children, he said, can be a gateway to child abuse.
'It's the single most common way physical abuse incidents begin,' Holden said.
His peer-reviewed research will be published this summer in the Journal of Family Psychology.