Parental attitudes to corporal punishment of children and the analysis of possible reasons for applying corporal punishment in the family

Roma Jusienė


Parental use of corporal punishment is one of the most emotionally charged and attention eliciting topic in child rearing theory and practice, and in social and legal debates as well. The aim of this study is to analyse the parental use of corporal punishment (CP) and attitude to it as related to personal experience of corporal punishment in childhood and to children’s psychological adjustment. 110 parents (88 mothers and 22 fathers) who have children aged 4 to 16 years old participated in the study. Results show that 53 per cent of parents use CP on occasion in child rearing and 5 per cent use CP often. The age and gender of the child do not relate to the parental use of CP, though parents of school–aged children believe CP is more effective than parents of preschool children. Parental use of CP significantly relates to the parental experience of CP in childhood and to the justification of CP effectiveness. Parents who use CP and believe in it’s effectiveness as a mode of discipline do not agree CP should be banned. Finally, children, who are exposed to CP, are rated by their parents as having more conduct problems, more hyperactive and having more emotional symptoms, and less sociable, than children who do not experience CP. The possible trajectories of CP practising from generation to generation and negative effects on psychological adjustment of children are disscussed in this article. The presumptions and suggestions for further psychological and social studies of the societal attitude to CP and the effects of the CP abolition are provided in the discussion of the results.


corporal punishment; children; psychological adjustment; parental attitudes

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789