PREDICTING ADULTS’ APPROVAL OF PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT FROM THEIR PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES
AbstractMost physical violence against children in their homes is rooted in physical punishment. Parents’ approval of physical punishment is a primary predictor of its use. Therefore, reducing approval of physical punishment is critical to preventing physical violence against children. We explored the relative contributions of four variables to young adults’ approval of physical punishment with the aim of identifying effective routes to prevention. The participants were 480 first-year university students in 3 Canadian provinces. The outcome measure was a scale assessing participants’ approval of physical punishment. The predictor variables were four dimensions of participants’ perceptions of their childhood physical punishment experiences: physical (frequency, severity), cognitive (perceived abusiveness, perceived deservedness), affective (short- and long-term emotional impact), and contextual (degree to which it was accompanied by reasoning, power assertion, emotional abuse, or emotional support). Most (73%) of the participants had experienced physical punishment in childhood. Of these, 78% had experienced punishments other than mild spanking with the hand; one fifth had been pushed against a wall, and one third had been hit with objects. The strongest predictor of participants’ approval of physical punishment was a belief that their experiences were deserved. Reducing approval of physical punishment requires strategies to alter the perception that children deserve violence.
Copyright (c) 2018 Joan E. Durrant, Elif Acar, Justin McNeil, Ailsa M. Watkinson, Anne McGillivray
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