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Parents less likely to spank after reading briefly about its links to problems in children
Date:1/28/2014

Parents who spank their children believe it's an effective form of discipline. But decades of research studies have found that spanking is linked to short- and long-term child behavior problems.

Is there any way to get parents to change their minds and stop spanking? Child psychologist George Holden, who favors humane alternatives to corporal punishment, wanted to see if parents' positive views toward spanking could be reversed if they were made aware of the research.

Holden and three colleagues at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, used a simple, fast, inexpensive method to briefly expose subjects to short research summaries that detailed spanking's negative impact.

Carrying out two studies, one with non-parents and one with parents, Holden and his co-authors on the research found that attitudes were significantly altered.

"Parents spank with good intentions they believe it will promote good behavior, and they don't intend to harm the child. But research increasingly indicates that spanking is actually a harmful practice," said Holden, lead author on the study. "These studies demonstrate that a brief exposure to research findings can reduce positive corporal punishment attitudes in parents and non-parents."

The researchers believe the study is the first of its kind to find that brief exposure to spanking research can alter people's views toward spanking. Previous studies in the field have relied on more intensive, time-consuming and costly methods to attempt to change attitudes toward spanking.

"If we can educate people about this issue of corporal punishment, these studies show that we can in a very quick way begin changing attitudes," said Holden, a professor in the SMU Department of Psychology who has carried out extensive research on spanking.

The findings, "Research findings can change attitudes about corporal punishment," have been published online in the international journal of C
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert

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