Parental Use of Corporal Punishment and Development of Aggression in Children
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All six studies reported parental punitiveness as crucial to the development of offspring antisocial behavior. The research indicated that styles of parenting including corporal punishment, power assertion, rejection, physical abuse and neglect were prime predictors of future criminal and antisocial offspring behavior. Other important factors were poor parental supervision and parent-child interaction, parental criminality and socioeconomic difficulties Haapsalo and Pokela, White and Smith conducted longitudinal study of the relationship between childhood victimization experiences and sexually coercive behaviors during adolescence.
Their results indicate that males who were physically punished, sexually abused, or who witnessed domestic violence in childhood were at greater risk for sexual perpetration in high school White and Smith, As mentioned earlier, many of the studies assume that a significant relationship exists between corporal punishment and delinquent behavior among youth.
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From a critical standpoint, the majority of the studies fail properly to define what constitutes corporal punishment. In many cases, there is no distinction between what is deemed corporal punishment and physical abuse. In addition, many of the studies do not consider other parent-related variables e. Support for the use of corporal punishment Even though there is unanimous agreement among experts that corporal punishment is detrimental for children, there is some debate about whether corporal punishment is associated with negative outcomes Baumrind, ; Larzelere, According to Vockell corporal punishment does have some advantages.
One advantage is the child or student perceives the event as unpleasant, thus minimizing the likelihood of repeated inappropriate behavior. Another positive associated with corporal punishment is that it can be administered and completed quickly. In addition, the implication associated with the use of this method is very clear and specific with respect to learned behavior and obvious consequences Vockell, With regards to the association between corporal punishment and deviant behavior, research indicates that it is not corporal punishment per se, but the disregard, inconsistency, and uninvolvement that often accompany harsh corporal punishment that increases a child's risk for problem behaviors Simmons et al.
To that end, Baumrind argued that when physical punishment is used within a loving family environment, it is effective in reducing unwanted behavior without increasing aggression Baumrind, From a psychological standpoint, Paolucci and Violato conducted a meta-analysis of the published research on the effects of corporal punishment on affective, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes.
The authors included 70 studies published between and and involving 47, people. Simmons et al. Wilson suggests there are six advantages for corporal punishment: cheap and easy to administer, effective deterrent, effective reform, adjustable pain, fair because of similar dislike of pain, no permanent damage Wilson, Despite the fact the literature which supports the use of corporal punishment is limited many of the studies which argue in support of such often consider the contextual factors associated with corporal punishment.
The research suggests that the contextual conditions i. Demographics of those who support corporal punishment A multitude of studies associated with the use of corporal punishment as a child-rearing technique seldom identify the characteristics e. In terms of age and gender, studies have shown that older parents are less likely to use corporal punishment; and mothers spank more often than fathers although this may be an effect of the greater amount of time that mothers spend with children Straus and Donnelly, ; Socolar and Stein, With respect to education, research reveals that mothers with more education are more likely to use teaching and verbal assertion as opposed to moderate or severe physical force than mothers with less education Socolar, With regards to race, various studies regarding the use of corporal punishment suggest that physical discipline may promote rather than deter antisocial behavior.
Most of this research, however, has focused upon European American samples. Studies of African American families have reported a different pattern of results. Such differences in findings for African American compared to European American families have led to the hypothesis that the meaning of corporal punishment varies by culture Deater-Decker et al. Despite the fact there is conflicting evidence regarding disciplinary styles in black families, a fair amount of evidence suggests that they tend to be more power-assertive and punitive controlling in relation to socioeconomic status McLoyd et al, For example, Horn et al, conducted a study which described and compared disciplinary beliefs and practices among African American parents from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
In reference to social class, lower socioeconomic status has been associated with more frequent corporal punishment Straus and Donnelly, In a similar vein, Xu et al, , examined and tested an integrated theoretical model to predict the likelihood of parental use of corporal punishment on children in two-parent families. Their study reveals that the use of corporal punishment is primarily determined by cultural, human, and social capital that is available to, or has already been acquired by, parents Xu et al, When considering religious beliefs, one study, conducted by Ellison et al generally confirms that parents with conservative scriptural beliefs use corporal punishment more frequently than parents with less conservative theological views Ellison et al, The aforementioned research suggests that demographics are important in considering and explaining the various results of corporal punishment among youth.
Overall, when corporal punishment is generally perceived to be negative by various classes of individuals, the results is usually negative as well e. Conditions associated with the effective use of corporal punishment In studies which support the use of corporal punishment, there is limited evidence regarding the methods in which this child-rearing technique is exercised. Wissow found that although most parents accept corporal punishment as justified, they also express interest in finding alternative methods of punishment and discipline. Although it may be that parents want to increase their repertoire of disciplining practices, this finding may also be a result of the stigma and misunderstanding associated with disciplinary spanking.
For instance, it is important to recognize that certain conditions must be met for any form of discipline to be effective, especially corporal punishment. Under these circumstances, children tend to understand that the rights and responsibilities of children and parents are neither identical nor mutually exclusive, but rather are complementary.
According to Domjan , punishment can be an effective agent of behavioral change, but only under certain conditions. To be effective, it must occur:. Other research suggests that spanking is typically preceded by a warning or threat Buck et al, Such measures support the belief that punishment used in association with instruction promotes learning among youth. In general, the utilization of corporal punishment is commonly understood to be effective when used under conditions which promote understanding and affection between parent and child.
Due to the limited amount of information regarding the conditions associated with the effective use of corporal punishment further research is warranted. Conclusion Considering that the United States and parts of Canada remain the only developed countries to allow corporal punishment, various measures should be created and developed to ensure effectiveness and safety regarding the use of corporal punishment among youth Robinson et al, This would include establishing policies regarding the use of corporal punishment in public schools.
Specifically, training should be provided which addresses critical aspects e.
A serious public health problem.
In addition, further research is needed in the areas of study which examine corporal punishment. In particular, the definition of what constitutes corporal punishment must be established in relation to culture. As mentioned earlier, the distinction made between physical abuse and corporal punishment may be associated with the perceptions of individuals.
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Social violence: Corporal punishment | Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Psychological Inquiry , 8,pp. Buck, J. The onset of physical punishment and other disciplinary techniques: A longitudinal and predictive analysis. Cast, A.
Childhood physical punishment and problem solving in marriage. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21 ,2, pp. Cohen, C. Freedom from corporal punishment: One of the human rights of children. II , Part 1. Davis, P. Corporal punishment cessation: Social contexts and parents' experiences. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14 , 5, pp. Deater-Deckard, K. Externalizing behavior problems and discipline revisited: Nonlinear effects and variation by culture, context, and gender. Psychological Inquiry , 8, pp. Physical discipline among African American and European American mothers: Links to children's externalizing behaviors.
Developmental Psychology , 32, pp. Domjan, M. The essentials of conditioning and learning 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Ellison, C.
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