The Spanking Study: SMU Prof Allowed to Listen In as Dallas Parents Discipline Kids

SMU psychology professor George Holden spends most of his time "understanding the determinants and significance of the parent-child relationship in development," says his Hilltop curriculum vitae, which is loaded with books and studies on the subject. Among the suggested-reading list: "Children's Assessments of Corporal Punishment and Other Disciplinary Practices: The Role of Age, Race, SES, and Exposure to Spanking," published last year.

But Holden's likely to garner significant attention for his latest look-see at spanking: "Real Life Mother-Child Interaction in the Home," made possible after "36 mothers and one father at Dallas day care centers agreed to leave a tape running between the time they got home and put the kids to bed," according to Good Morning America but moments ago. They then turned over the tapes to the prof, who makes some of the audio available on the other side; says Holden, some of the tapes -- including what you hear after the jump -- "were pretty shocking."

Holden's research also found its way into Time magazine this week, which explains he didn't initially set out to study spanking. It was just intended to be a look at -- or listen to -- "parents conducting life at home -- the pedestrian stuff of parenting like meal prep, bath time and lights out." Then it became something else.

In the course of analyzing the data collected from 37 families -- 36 mothers and one father, all of whom recorded up to 36 hours of audio in six days of study -- researchers heard the sharp cracks and dull thuds of spanking, followed in some cases by minutes of crying. They'd inadvertently captured evidence of corporal punishment, as well as the tense moments before and the resolution after, leading researchers to believe they'd amassed the first-ever cache of real-time spanking data.
Read the whole thing here. And jump. Do it. Now.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky