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04-07-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 2/2016

The Role of Race in the Association between Corporal Punishment and Externalizing Problems: Does Punishment Severity Matter?

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 2/2016
Auteurs:
Genevieve E. Lapré, Monica A. Marsee

Abstract

Parental corporal punishment is frequently associated with emotional and behavioral problems among youth. Some researchers propose that this association does not exist in African–American families, although the literature is mixed. Among recent studies, there is a lack of standardization in the measure of corporal punishment, which may help explain the inconsistent findings. The present study used a community sample (N = 106, 34 % African–American, 48 % female) to test for racial differences in the association between corporal punishment and youths’ aggression and delinquency, while examining different corporal punishment types separately by severity level. The three corporal punishment variables were spanking, severe corporal punishment (hitting and hitting with an object), and total corporal punishment (a composite of spanking, hitting, and hitting with an object). Regression analyses revealed that race moderated the association between corporal punishment and delinquency, although this moderation was contingent upon the corporal punishment variable. Specifically, severe corporal punishment and total corporal punishment were associated with delinquency only for Caucasian and not African–American youth. The model testing spanking and delinquency was not moderated by race. Additionally, race moderated the association between severe corporal punishment and youth aggression. Findings suggest that corporal punishment is associated with youth externalizing problems, but that this varies based upon race, severity of corporal punishment, and type of externalizing problem.

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