ERIC Number: ED341907
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Dec-11
Physical Punishment by Parents: A Risk Factor in the Epidemiology of Depression, Suicide, Alcohol Abuse, Child Abuse, and Wife Beating.
Straus, Murray A.; Kantor, Glenda Kaufman
One of the reasons why so few parents question the wisdom of "spare the rod and spoil the child" and why so few researchers have investigated the potential adverse effects, is probably the culturally accepted assumption that, when done "in moderation," physical punishment is harmless and sometimes necessary. This study starts from assumptions that are almost the opposite of that aspect of American culture. It tests the hypothesis that the greater the use of physical punishment, the greater the probability, later in life, of depression, suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, wife assaults, and child abuse. The findings to be reported must be regarded as tentative because they are based on recall data about physical punishment, whereas an adequate test of this hypothesis requires prospective data for a large and representative sample. The findings are based on 6,002 families who were studied as part of the 1985 National Family Violence Survey. Measures used were a questionnaire regarding physical punishment in the family of origin, physical abuse measures, child abuse, wife assault, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and drinking index measures. The results suggest that use of physical punishment by parents is a risk factor for depression, suicide, alcohol abuse, physical abuse of children, and physical assaults on wives. The social-psychological processes which produced these effects need to be determined to provide a basis for treating persons suffering these consequences. (LLL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHHS), Bethesda, MD.; National Inst. on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (DHHS), Rockville, MD.
Authoring Institution: New Hampshire Univ., Durham. Family Research Lab.