skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 136109 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Physical Punishment by Parents: A Risk Factor in the Epidemiology of Depression, Suicide, Alcohol Abuse, Child Abuse, and Wife Beating
Author(s): M A Straus; G K Kantor
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, MD 20852
US Dept of Health and Human Services
Rockville, MD 20892-9304
Grant Number: R01MH40027; R01 AA08269-01
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Telephone interviews were conducted with 6,002 families who were studied as part of the 1985 National Family Violence Survey. The data collected were used to investigate the theory that physical punishment by parents of adolescents is a risk factor for later violence and mental health problems.
Abstract: The specific measures were: physical punishment in the family of origin, wife assault, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and drinking behavior. Nearly 50 percent of the sample recalled physically punishment during their adolescence; this figure agreed with research using contemporaneous reports by parents. The analysis controlled for confounding factors including low socioeconomic status. The results indicated that children of parents who used physical punishment ran a higher risk later in life of depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, physical abuse of their own children, and wife beating. Three major limitations to the study were identified. The first was that the physical punishment data were based on recall. Second, subjects who reported physical punishment may have suffered from abusive parenting which was outside the scope of this study. Finally, the finding refer to physical punishment during adolescence and do not consider physical punishment experienced as a toddler or young child. The results should be replicated using longitudinal data. If confirmed, these findings would indicate the need for a national campaign to reduce or eliminate all use of physical punishment. 1 table, 4 figures, and 29 notes
Main Term(s): Corporal punishment; Mental disorders
Index Term(s): Parental attitudes
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.