Physical punishment of children in two-parent families

Gavin Nobes, Marjorie Smith

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Most research concerning the extent to which children are physically punished has focused on only one parent of each child. It fails, therefore, to document the degree to which, within two-parent families, parents' punishments are similar, and how both parents' punishments combine. As a result, the important clinical question of how much physical punishment children receive has not been addressed. These issues were investigated by separately interviewing both mothers and fathers in 99 two-parent families. The interviews focused on the type, frequency and severity of parental punishments. Significant levels of association were found between mothers' and fathers' use of physical punishments, indicating that if one parent physically punishes frequently or severely, the other parent is also likely to do so. When the combination of both parents' punishments was considered, the extent of physical punishment received by children was found to be considerably greater than that reportedly administered by mothers, or by fathers, alone. These findings demonstrate the clinical importance of taking into account both parents' punishments of their children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1997

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