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Corporal Punishment and Children's Externalizing Problems: A Cross-Sectional Study of Tanzanian Primary School Aged Children

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2014 Pages: 884-892
Tobias Hecker; Katharin Hermenau; Dorothea Isele; Thomas Elbert
Date Published
May 2014
9 pages
This study determined the prevalence of corporal punishment at home and school among primary school students in Tanzania, and any association between this practice and the children's problem behaviors.
The study found that 95 percent of the children reported at least one of the six types of corporal punishment examined: being intentionally pinched, slapped, punched, or kicked; being spanked with the palm of the hand on buttocks, arms, or legs; spanking with an object such as a strap, belt, stick, tube, broom, wooden spoon, etc.; being hit so hard that injury occurred; being punched, slapped, punched, or spanked by a teacher; or witnessing a teacher intentionally pinching, slapping, punching, or spanking another student. The majority of the children had been punished with objects like sticks or belts (82 percent) or by being slapped, hit, or pinched (66 percent). Twenty-four percent had been hit so hard they were injured. In addition, approximately 95 percent reported having experienced corporal punishment at school; and 98 percent had witnessed corporal punishment used against other children at school. The study also found that corporal punishment correlated significantly positively with current and lifetime aggressive behavior, conduct problems, and hyperactivity. Various types of corporal punishment were significantly negatively correlated with prosocial behavior. Of the 409 children in the study, 52 percent were boys. The children were from grades two through seven and with a mean age of 10.49 years old. In Tanzania, corporal punishment is still lawful, not only at home but also at school. Although the law prohibits torture or other cruel or inhuman punishment, it allows corporal punishment as a means for justifiable correction. 3 tables and 45 references