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Corporal Punishment's Influence on Children's Aggressive and Delinquent Behavior

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 38 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2011 Pages: 818-839
Sara Z. Morris; Chris L. Gibson
Date Published
August 2011
22 pages
This study examined the behaviors of children subjected to corporal punishment and nonpunished children.
Studies show that children subjected to corporal punishment may engage in more aggression and delinquent behaviors than those who are not. Past research, however, is limited methodologically. This is largely the result of a lack of matched corporally punished and nonpunished children. To address this limitation, a propensity score matching analysis was used to estimate the effects of corporal punishment on children's behaviors. Using data from the longitudinal study of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, findings indicate that (a) a large amount of selection bias exists, indicating that child and family characteristics of those subjected to corporal punishment are substantially different from characteristics of those not punished, and (b) when children exposed to corporal punishment (vs. those who are not) are matched on their propensities of being punished, the relationship between punishment and subsequent aggression and delinquency become statistically nonsignificant and substantively small. Findings are discussed in light of past research on corporal punishment, and limitations of the current study and ways of overcoming them in the future are discussed. (Published Abstract)