When a scientist set out to record parents in order to learn more about yelling at children, he ended up collecting data on a disciplinary action he didn't expect to see at such a high frequency. The parents he recorded were not just yelling, they were spanking and slapping their children too. The result of his research is an interesting look at a disciplinary measure that has become culturally taboo and yet remains prevalent among parents.
Spanking isn’t without any merit. In fact, hitting and spanking can correct behavior in the short-term and doesn’t appear to lead to long-term damage to the child if done infrequently. However, many studies have revealed that frequent hitting and spanking can lead to long-term emotional and behavioral problems, most notably resorting to violence to solve problems.
Despite the societal pressure and scientific findings that push parents to avoid spanking, Professor George Holden was surprised to find that 36 parents out of the 37 he studied resorted to slapping or spanking. It’s one of the first studies to record data on spanking without using self-reporting by participants. The reasons for spanking and slapping varied widely – in one case it was because a child was fighting with his sister, in another a child was trying to turn the pages of a book too quickly. The researchers were surprised that the irony of using violence in order to stop a child from being violent was lost on many parents. The parents were from a range of economic and cultural backgrounds.
Do you intend to use spanking as a form of discipline?
The First Real-Time Study of Parents Spanking Their Kids [Time]