An ABCNEWS poll in November found that even parents who approve of spanking in the home oppose it in schools.
What the surveys generally don’t pick up is the most common response that researchers get when they talk to people about their discipline practices.
More than 8 in 10 of those question in the Harris poll said they thought it was appropriate at least “sometimes.” The furor over the Peterson case reinforced some widely accepted myths, but it also raised important questions that are rarely asked outside scientific circles (and certainly not in many American homes): When does spanking become abuse? () “My job is not to tell people what to do, but to tell them what the research findings are, “ says Alan Kazdin, who has spent 30 years studying techniques that will tame children who set fires, punch their principals, and run away as well as kids whose rebellions are slightly less damaging.
And the research findings, says Kazdin, professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and Director of the Yale Parenting Center, are overwhelming.
From conservative talk show host Sean Hannity to former basketball champion Charles Barkley, some leaped to Peterson’s defense, claiming that many parents discipline their children using switches.
The football player, and many others, seemed surprised that police got involved in what seemed to him a family matter.
“In the United States we have a violent culture, so clearly we all didn’t turn out O. K.” is something Marion Brannon sees every time she conducts parenting classes based on a program developed by the APA called Adults and Children Together (ACT/Parents Raising Safe Kids), which teaches parents how to provide their kids a safe environment and to protect them from violence—in the community, in the media, and at home.
“We do a very reflective exercise in which people talk about their own parenting styles,” says Brannon, who works with families in Ohio.
And they always say the same thing: ‘I don’t want that for my kids.
Give me something else to do.’” Studies suggest that one parenting style—authoritative—is more likely to produce kids who grow up happy and successful.