Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parents less likely to spank after reading briefly about its links to problems in children

Date:
January 28, 2014
Source:
Southern Methodist University
Summary:
Parents who spank believe it's an effective way to discipline children. But extensive research has linked spanking to short- and long-term child behavior problems. New studies found that brief exposure to the research significantly altered parents' positive views toward spanking. "If we can educate people about corporal punishment, these studies show that we can in a very quick way begin changing attitudes."

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.

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 in the international journal of Child Abuse & Neglect.

Study probed attitudes, which research has found predict behaviors

Research has found that parents who spank believe spanking can make children behave or respect them. That belief drives parental behavior, more so than their level of anger, the seriousness of the child's misbehavior or the parent's perceived intent of the child's misbehavior.

Additionally, parents form their opinions based on advice from others they trust, primarily their own parents, their spouse and pediatricians, followed by mental health workers, teachers, parent educators and religious leaders.

Two studies with parents and non-parents both find changed attitudes

In the first SMU study, the subjects were 118 non-parent college students divided into two groups: one that actively processed web-based information about spanking research; and one that passively read web summaries.

The summary consisted of several sentences describing the link between spanking and short- and long-term child behavior problems, including aggressive and delinquent acts, poor quality of parent-child relationships and an increased risk of child physical abuse.

The majority of the participants in the study, 74.6 percent, thought less favorably of spanking after reading the summary. Unexpectedly, the researchers said, attitude change was significant for both active and passive participants.

A second study replicated the first study, but with 263 parent participants, predominantly white mothers. The researchers suspected parents might be more resistant to change their attitudes. Parents already have established disciplinary practices, are more invested in their current practices and have sought advice from trusted individuals.

But the results indicated otherwise. After reading brief research statements on the web, 46.7 percent of the parents changed their attitudes and expressed less approval of spanking.

"Given the brevity of our intervention, the results are notable," said the authors. "Our Web-based approach is less expensive, potentially quicker, and more easily scaled up to use at a community level."

With spanking a public health concern, this approach offers a simple way to reach a large audience to change attitudes and reduce parents' reliance on corporal punishment, said Holden, who was recently elected president of Dallas' oldest child abuse prevention agency, Family Compass. For example, educational modules could be developed for high school students, the authors said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Southern Methodist University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. George W. Holden, Alan S. Brown, Austin S. Baldwin, Kathryn Croft Caderao. Research findings can change attitudes about corporal punishment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.10.013

Cite This Page:

Southern Methodist University. "Parents less likely to spank after reading briefly about its links to problems in children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128153952.htm>.
Southern Methodist University. (2014, January 28). Parents less likely to spank after reading briefly about its links to problems in children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128153952.htm
Southern Methodist University. "Parents less likely to spank after reading briefly about its links to problems in children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128153952.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins