ERIC Number: ED415019
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Aug
Toward a Developmental/Contextual Model of the Effects of Parental Spanking on Children's Aggression.
Gunnoe, Marjorie Lindner; Mariner, Carrie Lea
Researchers who employ contextual models of parenting contend that it is not spanking per se, but rather the context in which spanking occurs and the meanings children ascribe to spanking, that predict child outcomes. This study proposed two plausible meanings that children may ascribe to spanking--a legitimate expression of parental authority or an act of interpersonal aggression--and hypothesized that to the degree that spanking is perceived as the former, it will not foster child aggression. It also proposed that children's espousal of one or the other of these meanings is a function of both cultural norms and the nature of the family hierarchy. Using data from 1,112 children ages 4 through 11 from the National Survey of Families and Households, the study tested the hypotheses that the association between the frequency of spanking and subsequent child aggression would be stronger for older versus younger children, boys versus girls, whites versus blacks, and single-mother versus mother-father families. Results from structural equation models of main effects indicated significant group differences in children's self-reported fighting by age and race. Spanking predicted fewer fights for children ages 4 to 7 and for blacks, and more fights for children ages 8 to 11 and for whites. The study also tested a model wherein a positive association between spanking and aggression emerges at younger ages for boys, whites, and children in single-mother homes. These attributes were employed as proxies for lower levels of parental control and/or control maintained through punitive means. Investigations of potential interactions between age, gender, race, and family structure using ordinary least squares regression yielded the earliest and strongest positive associations between spanking and fighting for white boys in single-mother homes. (Contains 15 references.) (Author/EV)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Child Health and Human Development (NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: Child Trends, Inc., Washington, DC.