The predictors of parental use of corporal punishment

Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, Melanie D. Otis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Corporal punishment has been the focus of considerable study over the past decade. Some recent research suggesting that the use of corporal punishment may have significant long-term negative effects on children has prompted increasing exploration and interest in the issue. We used tobit regression analysis and data from the 2000 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine both the prevalence and the chronicity of spanking in a nationally representative sample of parents. Mother's characteristics (e.g., age, education) and neighborhood context did not show a relationship with parental use of corporal punishment. Among parents who used corporal punishment, being Protestant had a relatively large relationship with its use. Although children's externalizing behaviors had some association with parent's propensity to spank, findings suggest that use of corporal punishment may be better understood as part of a constellation of behaviors relating to a parenting style. Further, findings indicate that it is easier to predict the incidence of corporal punishment than to predict its frequency of use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-91
Number of pages12
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Corporal punishment
  • Discipline
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Tobit regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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