Corporal Punishment: What the
evidence tells us about the effects
on child development
PAN: Children Dialogue Series
03 December 2013
Pretoria
SA Research in the context of
global evidence
International
experience
South
African
research
Focus on Behavioural Outcomes
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Risk for use of corporal
punishment
Interpersonal
Individual
Characteristics of
child at risk
Male-dominated
households
Caregiver
psychological
functioning
Psychological
functioning and
temperament
Marital conflict
Age and educational
attainment
Gender
Family structure
Violence in family of
origin
Age
(Dawes et al 2005)
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Aggression and Anti-social
behaviour
• Children punished by corporal punishment,
by parents
– significantly more likely to become aggressive with
peers
• Trickett PK & Kuczynski C (1986)
• Barlow & Parsons (2005)
– Increased risk of delinquency and substance
abuse
• Barlow & Parsons (2005)
• Mulvaney MK & McBert CJ (2007)
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• A Campbell Collaboration Systematic
review found that parenting practices,
and specifically harsh discipline, little
positive parenting involvement, and
poor supervision, accounted for up to
40% of variation in social behaviour
amongst children
(Patterson (1993))
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• Corporal punishment in adolescence is
strongly associated with an increased
probability of condoning violence against
one’s spouse, experiencing depression as an
adult, and elevating levels of marital conflict.
In turn, each of these components was
associated with an increased probability of
physically assaulting one’s spouse and child.
Straus, MA & Yodanis CL (1996)
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• In a meta-analysis of 88 studies,
Gershoff concludes that there are
strong negative associations between
corporal punishment and:
• Mental health in childhood
• Aggression in childhood
• Delinquent and anti-social behaviour in
childhood and adolescence
• Abusing a child or spouse as an adult
(particularly strong association with IPV)
(Gershoff ET (2002))
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Because…
• Kerr DCR (2004) shows that corporal
punishment reduces both empathy and
moral regulation.
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And….
“The effect of corporal punishment may best be
understood from a stress-process framework.
Receiving physical discipline from a parent is
likely to be stressful for a child, and children
who are continuously exposed to stressors in
their environment (and perceive them as
stressful) show increased internalizing and
externalizing behaviours.”
(Turner & Finkelhor (1996))
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Impact of Corporal
Punishment
Direct
Indirect
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In South Africa
• Data collected through the CJCP
national child and youth surveys
(household and school-based) provides
empirical evidence of the relationship
between corporal punishment and
various negative behavioural outcomes
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Strong associations
• Children who are beaten at home are
more than TWICE as likely as those
who are not to:
– Use drugs
– Have positive attitudes to assault, revenge,
and taking goods using force
– Feel that violence is the best/appropriate
form of conflict resolution
(p=.000; Exp(B) range between 1.98 and 2.66)
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Strong associations
• Children who are beaten at home are ONE
AND A HALF TIMES more likely than those
who are not, to:
– Steal money or goods
– Feel unsafe at school, home and community
– Feel that beating up others is a good way to
impress peers
– Feel that stealing for revenge is acceptable
(p=.000; Exp(B) range between 1.6 and 1.78)
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Summary
• In conclusion:
– Children who experience corporal punishment are
more likely to develop inadequate coping
mechanisms, externalise behaviours, and adopt
violent/aggressive responses and coping
mechanisms as a child, through adolescence and
into adulthood.
• What we DON’T know is the impact of
severity and frequency on negative
behavioural and developmental outcomes
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THANK YOU
[email protected]
www.cjcp.org.za
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What evidence tells us about the effects on child