Spare the Rod? A Conversation About Corporal Punishment

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DALLAS -- It appears the actions of a star NFL running back have hit Americans hard. Adrian Peterson’s recent indictment on child abuse charges have some split on the issue of corporal punishment.

Peterson is accused of abusing his child with a switch; but, some may remember being on the receiving end of a similar punishment. Even so, one SMU psychology professor believes Peterson’s discipline crossed the line.

"He argued he was just disciplining his child, but he clearly got out of hand," Dr. George Holden explained. "He inadvertently was clearly, physically abusing the child."

Dr. Holden heads the U.S. alliance to end the hitting of children. He says some parents spank because they were spanked as children. Yet, he says the trend now is starting to shift.

“85% of older parents may say corporal punishment is appropriate, where as younger parents percent maybe 77%," Holden said. "Still, the majority of parents are endorsing corporal punishment. But, it’s at lower rates than it used to be 10-20 years ago.”

Dr. Holden says education and cases like Peterson’s can change parents' minds when it comes to corporal punishment.  “The evidence is that it is gradually changing – more and more parents are realizing that they don’t need to spank their children.”

“It’s increasingly clear from the research, it’s not a good practice.  It’s associated with lots of different problems in some of the children who are hit.”