Southern Methodist University, Dallas psychologist, George W. Holden, and others collected unique audio data of almost 40 families’ evening interactions over a six-day period.  These recordings include actual audio recordings of mothers, who had volunteered for this study, using various forms of corporal punishment—ranging from spanking with a belt to admonishments while hitting—with their children.  These families represent a cross section of our society: various ethnicities, various income levels, etc.

Researchers noted that the parents were neither apologetic nor defensive about their use of corporal punishment citing “their belief that it’s effective and necessary discipline.”  Holden reports that 70 to 90 percent of parents spank their children and most parents practice spanking globally.  He asserts that even though spanking brings about “immediate compliance” spanking has many “unintended negative consequences.”  According to Holden, some negative consequences include:

  • More likely to be aggressive toward other children and adults,
  • More difficult and non-compliant over time,
  • Have various behavior problems,
  • Can develop anxiety disorders or depression,
  • Can later develop antisocial behavior,
  • More at risk to be involved in intimate partner violence, and
  • Are at risk to become child abusers

Holden continues that the once or twice a year uses of corporal punishment is not the major concern; it’s the frequent use of corporal punishment that is troublesome.  “Kids need discipline, but centered on mutual respect and love, without potentially harming the child with corporal punishment.”