ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

While the link between parenting and delinquency is well established, there is less consensus among scholars with regards to the processes that account for this link. The current study had two objectives. The first was to disentangle the effects of African American parents' use of corporal punishment and verbal abuse on the conduct problems of their preteen children. The second was to investigate the mechanisms that explain this relationship, such as having low self-control or a hostile view of relationships, whereby these harsh parenting practices increase a youth's involvement in problem behavior. Further, we are interested in specifically addressing how these mechanisms may operate differently for males versus females. Analyses utilized structural equation modeling and longitudinal data spanning approximately 2.5 years from a sample of 704 (54.2 % female) African American children ages 10-12. The results indicated that verbal abuse was a more important predictor of conduct problems than corporal punishment. Additionally, we found that the mechanisms that mediated the impact of verbal abuse and corporal punishment on conduct problems varied by gender. For males, most of the effect of verbal abuse was mediated by low self-control, whereas anger/frustration was the primary mediator for females. Implications of these results and directions for future study are also discussed.
Content may be subject to copyright.
The Effect of Corporal Punishment and Verbal Abuse
on Delinquency: Mediating Mechanisms
Sara Z. Evans Leslie Gordon Simons
Ronald L. Simons
Received: 14 December 2011 / Accepted: 8 March 2012 / Published online: 30 March 2012
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012
Abstract While the link between parenting and delin-
quency is well established, there is less consensus among
scholars with regards to the processes that account for this
link. The current study had two objectives. The first was to
disentangle the effects of African American parents’ use of
corporal punishment and verbal abuse on the conduct
problems of their preteen children. The second was to
investigate the mechanisms that explain this relationship,
such as having low self-control or a hostile view of rela-
tionships, whereby these harsh parenting practices increase
a youth’s involvement in problem behavior. Further, we are
interested in specifically addressing how these mechanisms
may operate differently for males versus females. Analyses
utilized structural equation modeling and longitudinal data
spanning approximately 2.5 years from a sample of 704
(54.2 % female) African American children ages 10–12.
The results indicated that verbal abuse was a more
important predictor of conduct problems than corporal
punishment. Additionally, we found that the mechanisms
that mediated the impact of verbal abuse and corporal
punishment on conduct problems varied by gender. For
males, most of the effect of verbal abuse was mediated by
low self-control, whereas anger/frustration was the primary
mediator for females. Implications of these results and
directions for future study are also discussed.
Keywords Verbal abuse Corporal punishment
Externalizing behavior
The link between harsh parenting and adolescent antisocial
behavior is well-established (Simons et al. 2004). Although
this relationship is widely accepted, scholars agree less on
the processes that account for this association. Both verbal
and physical forms of harsh parental behavior may be
important, but these effects have not been fully disentan-
gled (Berlin et al. 2009). In addition, various theoretical
perspectives identify different mechanisms, including low
self-control (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990), emotional
reactions such as anger (Agnew 2006), and possessing a
hostile view of relationships (Dodge 1986; Dodge and
Pettit 2003; Bowlby 1969/1982), whereby harsh parenting
leads to adolescent delinquency. In response to these
issues, the current study has two objectives. First, we
attempt to disentangle the effects of parents’ physical
punishment and verbal abuse on adolescent antisocial
behavior. Second, we investigate the mechanisms (i.e. low
self-control, hostile view of relationships, and anger/
frustration) whereby these harsh parenting practices
increase an adolescent’s involvement problem behavior,
specifically focusing on how these mechanisms may
operate differently for males versus females.
The effect of these forms of hostility and potential
mediating processes are investigated using longitudinal
data from a sample of 704 (45.8 % male, 54.2 % female)
African American youth. Both official statistics and
S. Z. Evans (&)
Department of Justice Studies, University of West Florida,
Pensacola, FL 32514, USA
L. G. Simons
Department of Child and Family Development,
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
R. L. Simons
Department of Sociology, University of Georgia,
Athens, GA 30602, USA
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
DOI 10.1007/s10964-012-9755-x
self-report studies demonstrate that African Americans
report much higher levels of involvement in criminal acts
and are much more likely to be arrested than White youth
(Tittle and Paternoster 2000). These differences also exist
when investigating delinquency among adolescents. A
number of studies have found that African American
children are more likely to experience harsh forms of dis-
cipline from their parents, such as spanking, than children
of other racial and ethnic backgrounds (Dietz 2000; Day
et al. 1998). Additionally, there is reason to believe that
these forms of punishment may be more harmful among an
adolescent population than for younger children (Gunnoe
and Mariner 1997). Such differences underscore the
importance of research investigating the parenting prac-
tices that place African American youth at risk for anti-
social behavior. If, in fact, experiencing harsh forms of
discipline is an important precursor to engaging in delin-
quency, it is important that we understand the mechanism
by which this occurs.
One of the most supported findings in criminology is
that males commit more delinquent acts than females
(Schwartz and Rookey 2008; Steffensmeier et al. 2005;
Heimer and De Coster 1999). In addition, research suggests
that parents are more likely to physically punish boys
(Dietz 2000; Grogan-Kaylor and Otis 2007; Day et al.
1998). Finally, there is some evidence that females are
more likely to respond to parental hostility with internal-
ized feelings, such as depression, instead of externalized
feelings of anger. Given these differences, elaborated
below, we specifically focused on males and females
separately to investigate potential differences in these
Existing Research on the Link between Parenting
and Delinquency
Corporal Punishment Versus Verbal Abuse
Corporal punishment is a widely used form of discipline in
the United States. Results from a nationally representative
sample indicate that a little more than a third of parents
report hitting their infants (under 1 year old), 94 % report
hitting toddlers (ages 3–5), and, although rates decline after
this age, 70 % of parents report using corporal punishment
with their children aged 9–12 and 30 % still report using it
with children aged 13–17 (Straus and Stewart 1999). A
profusion of studies has investigated the potential link
between corporal punishment and increases in children’s
behavioral problems (see Gershoff 2002; Larzelere 2000;
Simons et al. 2004). This research has been spurred by the
fact that this form of discipline has remained highly pre-
valent in the United States.
Three meta-analyses were recently conducted regarding
the relationship between corporal punishment and negative
behavioral outcomes. In a review of thirty-five past studies,
Paolucci and Violato (2004) found that children who
experience corporal punishment are at a small increased
risk for emotional or behavioral problems. About 25 % of
the studies, they considered were specifically focused on
adolescents. However, because of a lack of data in some
studies they were unable to investigate how the age of the
child affected the overall results. In contrast to these find-
ings, a meta-analysis of eighty-eight studies by Gershoff
(2002) indicated that corporal punishment is related to a
large number of negative behaviors including aggression
and antisocial behavior. About 30 % of the studies in this
meta-analysis included a target child between the ages of
10 and 16. Results indicated that the older the target child
was, the more likely there was an association between
corporal punishment and negative outcomes. However, this
study focused on showing association rather than causal
effect. Gershoff (2002) argues for the necessity of inves-
tigating the effects of physical punishment along with
important mediating and moderating processes. She argues
for the need to take into account not only alternative dis-
ciplinary techniques (such as in the work of Larzelere et al.
1998) but also potential amplifications of the effects of
corporal punishment coupled with verbal aggression, as we
attempt to do in the current study.
In addition to the meta-analyses discussed above, Horn
et al. (2004) conducted a meta-analysis specifically inves-
tigating effects of corporal punishment among African-
American children and young adolescents. They found
only seven articles that fulfilled their criteria of interest, the
most important being that the sample was either all African
American or had enough diversity in their sample to make
comparisons between African American and European
American sub-samples. Their results were inconclusive,
three of the studies considered showed positive outcomes
as a result of the use of corporal punishment, two showed
negative outcomes, and one found neutral results. The
authors argue that more work needs to be done in this area,
especially with the consideration of contextual factors such
as other parental behaviors. This meta-analysis only echoes
the varied results that other research done with African-
American populations has shown, in that some find asso-
ciations between the use of corporal punishment and
increased externalizing behaviors (Pardini et al. 2008), and
others reporting a positive effect of corporal punishment on
behavior (Lansford et al. 2004).
More recent studies also have shown mixed results when
investigating adolescent populations with regards to the
effect of physical punishment on antisocial behavior.
Morris and Gibson (2011) found no effect of physical
punishment on aggressive behavior outcomes using a
1096 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
propensity score matching technique to approximate an
experimental design. Their sample consisted of children
from age 6–18. Lansford et al. (2011) found that physical
punishment significantly predicted antisocial behavior
using a sample of 10–15 year olds, almost half of which
were also African American. They specifically were
interested in investigating reciprocal effects, and although
they did find supportive results of a reciprocal relationship
in a separate sample of younger children, the results for the
adolescent sample suggested that parental behaviors sig-
nificantly impacted their children’s antisocial behavior but
not vice versa. Additionally, several studies have shown
associations between verbal and physical punishment of
adolescents and aggression toward parents (Pagani et al.
2004,2009). These authors found that both verbal and
physical hostility towards adolescents from mothers was
predictive of resulting physical aggression by the adoles-
cent (Pagani et al. 2004). In a second study with the same
sample, but specifically examining fathers, verbally hostile
punishment (but not physical) was associated with verbal
and physical aggression by the adolescents toward their
father (Pagani et al. 2009). As evidenced by the studies
above, verbal aggression and abuse by parents are impor-
tant predictors of adolescent aggressive behavior. What is
less clearly known is how this parenting practice affects
aggression in conjunction with physical forms of punish-
ment, as we investigate in the current study.
Several studies have investigated ethnic/racial differ-
ences in the effects of physical punishment. As mentioned
above, many of these investigations found that the positive
association between physical discipline and conduct prob-
lems was less apparent for African Americans than for
European Americans (Dodge et al. 2005). However, much
of this research was limited by the failure to control for
prior conduct problems and other dimensions of parenting.
Also, samples of African American youth were often small.
A few recent, more methodologically sophisticated studies
have found that physical punishment predicts increases in
delinquency for African American youngsters in a manner
comparable to that for European American youth (McLoyd
and Smith 2002; Pardini et al. 1997; Simons et al. 2002). In
light of these discrepancies and limitations, it is important
that researchers continue to disentangle how parenting
influences African American adolescents.
Unfortunately, most studies of corporal punishment fail
to control for the effects of emotional or verbal abuse,
especially when considering these effects among adoles-
cent populations. Since these two forms of hostility are
likely to be correlated moderately, it may be that the
inconsistent findings that have been reported regarding
corporal punishment are a consequence of not controlling
for verbal abuse. Perhaps the effect of physical punishment
is spurious due to its association with verbal abuse, or it
may be that forms of physical hostility such as corporal
punishment only have a deleterious effect when they occur
within the context of verbal abuse. The only way to fully
disentangle how each of these factors influence behavior on
their own and also together is to investigate them in the
same model, as we do in the current study.
Several studies have reported that forms of abuse, such
as verbal assaults and derogation, increase the probability
of children’s behavioral problems (Vissing et al. 1991;
Loos and Alexander 1997; Wright et al. 2009; Berlin et al.
2009). Few studies have attempted, however, to investigate
the unique effects of both verbal abuse and corporal pun-
ishment. Studies of corporal punishment often include
assessments of parental warmth, but absence of warmth is
not the same as verbal abuse. Indeed, there is good reason
to believe that verbal abuse is more consequential for child
development than parental warmth as there is strong evi-
dence that humans attend to, learn from, and use negative
information far more than positive information (see Vaish
et al. 2008). This bias is evident early in life and is assumed
to have developed for good evolutionary reasons. Consis-
tent with this idea, several studies have found that parental
warmth, unlike verbal abuse, does not have a significant
effect on antisocial behavior once the effect of other
dimensions of parenting are taken into account (McKee
et al. 2007; Stacks et al. 2009; Simons et al. 2007).
Attachment theory (Bowlby 1969/1982) argues that
children develop emotional and behavioral problems when
their parents fail to provide a safe and supportive envi-
ronment. This theory might be interpreted as suggesting
that emotional and verbal abuse is more destructive than
physical punishment. Physical punishment does not nec-
essarily signify rejection, especially given that this disci-
plinary technique is widely regarded as normative
(Lansford et al. 2005). Open verbal abuse or hostility, on
the other hand, is likely to be interpreted by the child as a
clear indication of scorn and rejection. While they may
understand the rationale behind corporal punishment as a
consequence for bad behavior, a derogative attitude and
intentionally mean comments from parents may be very
damaging (Wolfe and McIsaac 2011). Children who are
consistently exposed to such parental behavior eventually
may learn to misinterpret emotional cues and be more
likely to view others as having aggressive intent regardless
of their intentions (Dodge et al. 1994; Wolfe and McIsaac
Although most research on harsh parenting fails to dis-
tinguish between these two forms of hostility, there have
been a few exceptions. A study by McKee et al. (2007)
investigated the effects of both harsh verbal and physical
discipline while taking into account positive parenting
characteristics (both warmth and appropriate discipline).
The authors also specifically were focused on examining
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110 1097
gender differences of both the parent and child. They found
that both verbal and physical hostility showed unique
associations with antisocial behavior. Specifically, both
harsh verbal and physical discipline were associated with
externalizing behavioral problems among both boys and
girls, regardless of whether it was performed by the child’s
mother or father. Unfortunately, this study was limited by
its use of cross-sectional data and by a sample consisting of
98 % Caucasian participants.
There is also substantial evidence that processes leading
to delinquency and crime may differ by gender (Giordano
et al. 2002; Heimer and De Coster 1999). A substantial
amount of criminological research shows that offending
rates for males and females differ, with males committing
more (and more serious) crimes than females. This finding
is also supported when specifically investigating adolescent
populations (Begle et al. 2011; Farrington and Joliffe
2010). While some recent, more sophisticated methodo-
logical research has shown similarities in patterns of
offending when comparing adolescent males and females,
the results still support differences in base rates of delin-
quency (Miller et al. 2010). However, a substantial amount
of criminological research does not address specifically
why this is true or explore in depth what mechanisms might
be causing this disparity. While this research provides
valuable information about offending, one of our goals in
this study was to investigate explicitly how these processes
leading to offending may differ for males and females.
Additionally, there is reason to believe that not only does
the use of corporal punishment differ by gender—parents
are more likely to spank boys (Dietz 2000; Grogan-Kaylor
and Otis 2007; Day et al. 1998)—the response to that
punishment may differ as well. There is some evidence
indicating (elaborated below) that females are more likely
to respond to parental hostility with internalized emotions,
such as depression, rather than externalized behaviors such
as delinquency (Jang 2007). As such, we use the previously
described theories to understand delinquency among both
males and females, but rather than using gender as a con-
trol we split the sample into two groups. We agree with
several criminological researchers that we can use existing
theory to understand female motivations for antisocial
behavior, although the mechanisms for this may be quali-
tatively different than for males (Broidy and Agnew 1997;
Heimer and De Coster 1999; Piquero and Sealock 2004).
The current study examines the simultaneous effects of
verbal and corporal punishment using longitudinal data.
Although we concentrate upon youths 10–12 years of age
(a time when use of physical punishment is less common
and normative than during toddlerhood), this is the time
period when serious conduct problems are beginning to
emerge for most adolescents. Further, since corporal pun-
ishment is less normative by this age, this is a period when
the negative effects of physical punishment on antisocial
behavior should be most evident. In addition to examining
the main effect of each of these two types of hostility, we
test for a possible interaction as it may be that corporal
punishment only serves to increase antisocial behavior
when it occurs concomitantly with verbal abuse.
Mediating Mechanisms
Documenting a relationship between parental hostility and
delinquency does little to help us understand why this
association exists (Simons et al. 2011). The present study
examines the extent to which the effect of parents’ use of
verbally hostile language and corporal punishment on
adolescent conduct problems is explained by variables
identified in the major theories of delinquency and crime.
Each of these theories emphasizes a particular psycholog-
ical mechanism that links parental hostility to delinquency.
In ‘A general theory of crime’ (GTC) Gottfredson and
Hirschi (1990) argue that persons who are low in self-
control are attracted to delinquent and criminal behavior,
and assert that children suffer from low self-control when
they are raised by caretakers who are rejecting and fail to
provide fair and consistent discipline. Thus, the theory
views lack of self-control as the personal characteristic that
links inept parenting practices such as verbal abuse and
harsh corporal punishment to adolescent antisocial behav-
ior. In support of this idea, Simons et al. (2007) found that
low self-control mediated a significant proportion of the
association between parental hostility and adolescent
delinquency within a sample of African-American ado-
A second potentially mediating mechanism is the emo-
tional state of anger and frustration. This factor is
emphasized by Berkowitz’s (1990) revision of the frus-
tration aggression hypothesis, Agnew’s (1992,2001)
General Strain Theory (GST), and Colvin’s (2000) Coer-
cion Theory. All of these theorists argue that aversive
social relationships, such as parental hostility and mal-
treatment, foster anger and irritability, and that these
feelings increase the risk of delinquency because they
foster belligerence and explosiveness, lower inhibition and
concern with negative consequences, and create a desire for
retaliation and revenge.
Several studies have demonstrated that feelings of anger
increase the probability that an individual will engage in
delinquent behavior (Agnew 1985; Berkowitz 1990;
Mazerolle and Piquero 1997,1998; Simons et al. 2004).
Unfortunately, there has been limited investigation of the
extent to which anger mediates the relationships between
harsh, rejecting parenting practices and delinquency.
Broidy (2001) reported that anger mediated most of the
association between corporal punishment and delinquency,
1098 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
although other evidence suggests that it mediates only a
small portion of this relationship (Brezina 1998; Piquero
and Sealock 2000).
There is a body of research investigating GST predic-
tions within African American samples (Jang 2007; Jang
and Johnson 2003,2005), but most studies have examined
these issues with adult populations and therefore different
measures of strain. Jang (2007) argues that GST is espe-
cially relevant for investigating African American popu-
lations as they experience higher levels of strain than other
ethnic groups, may react to this strain differently than
whites, and have a more limited set of coping mechanisms
(see also Kaufman et al. 2008). This study specifically was
focused on addressing Broidy and Agnew’s (1997)
hypotheses regarding gender differences in the experience
and consequences of strain. The finding most relevant for
the current study was that females experienced greater
amounts of strain, and females were more likely to feel
internalized emotions such as depression as a result of
strain rather than externalized emotions such as anger (Jang
An important exception comes from Piquero and
Sealock (2010) investigation of GST using a sample of
both Whites and non-Whites (which were predominantly
African American). They examined the extent to which
GST could explain racial differences in offending among a
population of juvenile offenders. They found, contrary to
their hypotheses, that the White individuals in their sample
reported higher levels of strain. However, the effect of
strain on offending did not reach significance within the
White sample whereas among the non-White sample the
experience of strain had a significant and positive effect
on both property offending and personal aggression. Fur-
thermore, among the non-White sample they found a sig-
nificant mediating effect of anger when predicting
interpersonal aggression, but not for property offending.
Their results underscore the need to more fully unravel the
processes leading to offending among samples that are not
primarily Caucasian.
The third potentially mediating mechanism is possessing
a distrusting, hostile view of relationships. Two theoreti-
cal perspectives from developmental psychology—Ken
Dodge’s Biased Attribution Model (Dodge 1986; Dodge
and Pettit 2003) and Attachment Theory (Ainsworth et al.
1978; Bowlby 1969/1982; Lyons-Ruth 1996)—posit that
hostile, rejecting parenting causes children to develop a
biased view of people and relationships that increases the
chances that they will display conduct problems. The
Biased Attribution Model holds that antisocial youth tend
to believe that people are untrustworthy and exploitive, and
that aggression is therefore necessary and legitimate in
order to defend oneself. Similarly, attachment theory
argues that children exposed to harsh, rejecting parenting
develop a hostile, distrusting model of relationships that
causes them to approach others with suspicion and
aggression. Thus, both of these theories view a hostile view
of relationships as the factor that links harsh parenting to
delinquency. In support of this view, studies have shown
that a hostile view of relationships mediates a portion of the
effect of parents’ physical hostility on child conduct
problems (Dodge et al. 1995; Dodge et al. 1990; Lyons-
Ruth et al. 1990,1991).
The Current Study
In summary, all three of the psychological mechanisms
discussed above have theoretical backing and empirical
support as possible links between harsh parenting and
antisocial behavior. Almost all prior studies, however, have
only considered one of these mechanisms. In contrast, we
consider all three of these—low self-control, anger/frus-
tration, and a hostile view of relationships—simulta-
neously. It may well be that all three represent avenues
whereby harsh parenting increases the chances of conduct
problems. Furthermore, past studies often have used mea-
sures of harsh parenting that combine physical and verbal
hostility. The current study examines the extent to which
each of the mechanisms mediates the effect of verbal abuse
and corporal punishment as well as the interaction between
these two behaviors.
Given the lack of previous research using similar sam-
ples, we do not make explicit predictions regarding which
theory will show the most support. All three theories have
plausible explanations for the processes whereby parenting
influences delinquency. We do expect, however, that
physical punishment may be less consequential given the
existing literature that shows weaker effects among African
American populations. We also expect that anger/frustra-
tion may be a more important mediator for males than for
females, based upon the work of several scholars men-
tioned above (Broidy and Agnew 1997; Jang and Johnson
2003,2005; Jang 2007).
Our research utilizes the first two waves of the Family and
Community Health Study (FACHS), a multi-site (Georgia
and Iowa) investigation of neighborhood and family pro-
cesses that contribute to African American children’s
development in families living in a wide variety of com-
munity settings (see Gibbons et al. 2004; Simons et al.
2002,2005). Sample members were recruited from
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110 1099
neighborhoods, defined as census tracts, that varied on
demographic characteristics, specifically racial composi-
tion (i.e., percent black) and economic level (i.e., percent
of families with children living below the poverty line). In
Georgia, families were selected from 36 census tracts from
metropolitan areas such as South Atlanta, East Atlanta,
Southeast Atlanta, and Athens, that varied in terms of
economic status and ethnic composition. In Iowa, the 35
census tracts that met the study criteria were located in two
metropolitan communities: Waterloo and Des Moines. In
both research sites, families were drawn randomly from
rosters and contacted to determine their interest in
Two waves of data were collected from the Georgia and
Iowa families using identical research procedures. The first
wave was collected in 1998 and the second in 2000. At
wave 1, the participants were 867 African American chil-
dren (400 boys and 467 girls; 462 in Iowa and 405 in
Georgia). The children were 10–12 years old (mean of
10.5 years) at wave 1 of data collection. Seven hundred
and thirty-eight of the children (361 boys and 418 girls)
were interviewed again at wave 2. This was a response rate
of 86 %. Analyses indicated that the families who did not
participate at wave 2 did not differ significantly from those
who did with regard to caregiver income and education or
child’s age, gender, school performance, or delinquency.
We used these two particular waves of data for two main
reasons: first, the data were collected at the point in the life
course we were interested in investigating, between pre-
adolescence (age 10–12) and early adolescence (14–16).
Second, we were unable to use the third wave of data for
this particular study due to the lack of several key measures
(such as low self-control) in that dataset.
Before data collection began, four focus groups in Georgia
and four in Iowa examined and critiqued the self-report
instruments. Each group was composed of 10 African
American women who lived in neighborhoods similar to
those from which the study participants were recruited. The
focus groups and pilot tests did not indicate a need for
changes in any of the instruments used in the present article.
To enhance rapport and cultural understanding, African
American university students and community members
served as field researchers to collect data from the families
in their homes. Prior to data collection, the researchers
received 1 month of training in the administration of the
self-report instruments. Interviews were conducted in the
participant’s home. At each home visit, self-report ques-
tionnaires were administered to the caregiver and the child
in an interview format. Each interview was conducted
privately between the participant and the researcher, with
no other family members present. The instruments were
presented on laptop computers. Questions appeared in
sequence on the screen, which both the researcher and
participant could see. The researcher read each question
aloud and the participant entered a response using the
computer keypad.
This construct was measured using youth self-reports on
the conduct disorder section of the Diagnostic Interview
Schedule for Children, Version 4 (DISC-IV). The DISC-IV
corresponds to symptoms listed in the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual-IV (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric
Association 1994). The DISC was developed over a
15-year period of research on thousands of youths and
parents and has demonstrated reliability and validity
(Schaffer et al. 1993). The conduct disorder section con-
tains a series of questions regarding how often during the
preceding year the participant engaged in 26 antisocial acts
such as shoplifting, physical assault, setting fires, cruelty to
animals, vandalism, burglary, and robbery. The maximum
possible score of 26 corresponds to a subject responding
that he or she engaged in all of the different acts. Not
surprisingly, no participant reported engaging in all 26 acts
in any wave. The maximum score was 19 at wave 2.
Coefficient alpha for the instrument was above .90. The
control for previous delinquency was measured with the
same instrument assessed at wave 1. The maximum score
was 21 and coefficient alpha was .89. We also include a
measure of prior delinquency from wave 1 to control for
earlier levels of problem behavior.
The items for the parenting scales were adapted from
instruments developed for the Iowa Youth and Families
Project (IYFP; Conger et al. 1992; Conger and Elder 1994).
These measures have been shown to have high validity and
reliability. For example, analyses from IYFP have shown
that parent reports on these instruments correlate with child
reports and with observer ratings (Conger et al. 1992;
Simons and Associates 1996), and they predict various
dimensions of child behavior across a several year period
(Simons et al. 1998; Simons et al. 2001). Focus group
feedback prior to data collection indicated that these items
are meaningful to African American parents and capture
what they consider to be the important dimensions of
effective parenting.
Corporal Punishment
Two items were used to assess parental corporal punish-
ment. The items asked the target children to report how
1100 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
often (1 =never; 4 =always) that their primary caregiver
disciplines them by slapping or striking with an object.
Responses to these items at waves 1 and 2 were summed
and averaged. Coefficient alpha for this 4-item scale was
.70. Our measure of corporal punishment is intentionally
distinct from what most researchers would characterize as
‘abuse’’. One issue that has been problematic for some
previous studies of physical punishment is the use of a
broad definition that confounds conventional punishment
or hostility and more severe abuse. Our operationalization
of corporal punishment is in line with a substantial amount
of past research and recommendations (Straus 1994;
Paolucci and Violato 2004) to use questions that explicitly
refer to behaviors that are generally regarded as conven-
tional or common parenting practices.
Verbal Abuse
Parental verbal abuse was measured using nine items that
asked the target children to report how frequently
(1 =never; 4 =always) when interacting with their pri-
mary caregiver that this person becomes angry, shouts,
yells, insults and swears, and threatens physical harm.
Responses to these items at waves 1 and 2 were summed
and averaged, and coefficient alpha for this 18 item scale
was .77.
Parental Warmth
In addition to corporal punishment and verbal abuse, we
included assessments of warmth and monitoring. These
parenting behaviors needed to be controlled to rule out the
possibility that any effects found for harsh parenting were
spurious due to associations with other dimension of par-
enting. Parental warmth was assessed using 9 items that
asked the target children to report how frequently
(1 =never; 4 =always) when interacting with their pri-
mary caregiver that this person listens carefully, shows
affection, expresses appreciation, demonstrates concern,
and expresses love. Responses to these items at waves 1
and 2 were summed and averaged. Coefficient alpha for
this 18 item scale was .88.
Parental Monitoring
This concept was assessed using four items that asked the
target children to report how often that their primary
caregiver knows where they are when they are away from
home, knows how well they are doing in school, knows
what you are doing after school, and is aware when they do
something wrong. Responses to these items at waves 1 and
2 were summed and averaged. Coefficient alpha for this
8-item scale was .71.
Low Self-Control
The potentially mediating mechanisms were assessed at
wave 2. A measure of low self-control was formed by
combining the 17 items from Kendall and Williams (1982)
inventory of self-constraint (e.g., If you find that something
is really difficult, you get frustrated and quit; You would
rather have a small gift today than a large gift tomorrow)
with Eysenck and Eysenck’s (1977) 6-item scale of risk-
taking tendency (e.g., You enjoy taking risks; You would
prefer doing something dangerous rather than sitting qui-
etly). The resulting 23-item measure captured the various
elements of low self-control described by Gottfredson and
Hirschi (1990) in their General Theory of Crime (e.g.,
impulsivity, insensitivity, physicality, risk-taking, short-
sightedness). Response format for the items ranged from 1
(not at all true) to 3 (very true) and coefficient alpha for this
measure at wave 2 was .73.
Hostile View of Relationships
A 9-item scale developed for the present project was used
to assess this construct (Simons et al. 2007). The items
focus on the extent to which the participant takes a cynical
view of people’s motives (e.g., When people are friendly,
they usually want something from you; You have often
been lied to) and believes that violence is often necessary
to achieve respect and obtain fair treatment (e.g., People
will take advantage of you if you don’t let them know how
tough you are; If you don’t let people know you will defend
yourself, they will think you are weak and take advantage
of you). The response format ranged from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). Coefficient alpha for the
scale was .74.
This construct was assessed using four items from the
DISC-IV that assess relatively enduring feelings of anger
and frustration. The items focused on how often the par-
ticipant feels grouchy, annoyed, mad, or unfairly treated.
The response format for the items ranged from 1 (less than
once a week) to 4 (nearly every day). Coefficient alpha for
this measure was .76.
Data Analysis
Our overall analytic strategy involved using measures of
parenting averaged across waves 1 and 2 to predict the
mediators and delinquency assessed at wave 2. Delin-
quency at wave 1 was included as a control. The parenting
measures were averaged across waves 1 and 2 in order to
better assess the persistent pattern of parenting that the
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110 1101
child had experienced during late childhood and early
adolescence. By using an average of two waves of data, we
avoided the possibility that one extreme measurement at
wave 1 or wave 2 would strongly influence the results. The
goal was to assess the effects of these parenting constructs
over the 2 year time period. We also chose to use child
reports of behavior (both their own and their parent’s) for
this study. This was in part for the sake of consistency (e.g.
we were using self-reported delinquency as the outcome
and wanted to use reports from the same individual as
independent variables). We also felt it was important to
capture the child’s experience of corporal punishment and
verbal abuse, as parents may be reluctant to report these
The first step in our analysis was to examine the unique
effect of persistent exposure to verbal abuse and to corporal
punishment on increases in delinquency after controlling
for other dimensions of parenting. Next, we tested the
extent to which verbal abuse and corporal punishment
interact to increase delinquency. Finally, we investigated
the extent to which the effect of either verbal abuse or
corporal punishment on delinquency was mediated by
hostile view of relationships, anger/frustration, or level of
All analyses were conducted using structural equation
modeling (SEM; MPLUS 5.1, Muthen and Muthen 1997–
2008). Using a SEM in Mplus has the advantage of
allowing for testing of the significance of indirect effects
when estimating a model with mediators. However, the
software does not allow for testing of indirect effects when
using the estimation techniques for a count outcome
(negative binomial regression or Poisson regression).
While our dependent variable is technically a count vari-
able, a major objective of our study was to examine the
importance of various mediators. Therefore, in order to
correct for the count distribution, we chose to use the
natural log of delinquency as the dependent variable. This
appeared to produce no significant bias as the overall
pattern of results using the log-transformed variable and
the original variable with a negative binomial model were
virtually identical. As discussed above, all models were run
separately by gender.
Data were available for 381 males and 323 females for the
variables used in this study. More than half of participants
of both genders reported at wave 2 that they had engaged in
at least one of the behaviors included in the outcome
measure. Over both waves 1 and 2, about 70 % of the
sample experienced some form of corporal punishment. In
wave 2 (when participants are approximately age 13–14),
roughly 10 % still experienced corporal punishment as a
form of discipline either ‘always’ or ‘often’’. Almost all
participants (99 %) experienced at least one form of verbal
abuse in both waves; the mean score on this scale was 29
(with a range of 18–63).
Table 1contains the bivariate correlations for the study
variables. The pattern of association is somewhat similar
for males and females. Verbal abuse and corporal punish-
ment are significantly correlated with each other and verbal
abuse is related to delinquency and all of the potential
mediators. However, the associations for corporal punish-
ment differ by gender. For males, this variable is associated
with delinquency and two of the mediators—self-control
and hostile view of relationships. For females, on the other
hand, corporal punishment is only related to hostile view of
relationships. The other two parenting variables—warmth
and monitoring—are related to verbal abuse and delin-
quency for both males and females, indicating the impor-
tance of including them as controls.
Table 2presents the results obtained when delinquency
was regressed on the parenting constructs and wave 1
delinquency. Model 1 includes the main effects for the
variables; model 2 adds the multiplicative interaction of
Table 1 Correlation matrix for dependent and independent variables males below diagonal (N =323), females above (N =381)
1. Verbal abuse .2359*** -.4842*** -.3522*** .3145*** .2977*** .2569*** .3336*** .3886***
2. Corporal punishment .2071*** -.0454 -.0923 0.0685 -.0166 .1238* 0.0413 0.0596
3. Warmth -.2628*** -.0618 .4710*** -.1541** -.3200*** -.1171* -.3256*** -.3167***
4. Monitoring -.2492*** -.0285 .5312*** -.1510** -.2565*** -.1085* -.1425** -.2496***
5. Anger .1112* -.0121 0.0421 -.0006 .1916*** .1652** .2025*** .3568***
6. Low self-control .3422*** .1663** -.1667** -.2031*** .1275* .1960*** .3497*** .3829***
7. Hostile view of Rel .2241*** .1751** -.0714 -.0758 0.0202 .2066*** .1447** .2510***
8. Delinquency T1 .2825*** 0.0259 -.1611** -.1673** 0.0696 .2141*** .1482** .5116***
9. Delinquency T2 .2795*** .1399** -.1806** -.2114*** .1389* .3996*** .2871*** .3651***
*p\.05, ** p\.01, *** p\.001
1102 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
verbal abuse and corporal punishment. The table shows
that verbal abuse has a modest and significant effect on
delinquency for both males and females, indicating that
adolescents who experience higher levels of verbal abuse
show an increase in delinquency across waves. Corporal
punishment, on the other hand, has a significant effect on
delinquency for males only. Although the coefficient for
verbal abuse is larger than that for corporal punishment
(ßs =.146 and .112, respectively), the difference between
the two coefficients is not statistically significant. Exam-
ining the other dimensions of parenting, monitoring is
associated with a reduction in delinquency for females.
Model 2 adds the interaction of verbal abuse and corporal
punishment and this coefficient is not significant for either
gender. Thus there is no support for the hypothesis that
corporal punishment is more likely to foster increases in
delinquency when it is accompanied by verbal abuse.
Model 3 in Table 2presents the results after adding the
psychological constructs as endogenous variables that
might mediate the association between parenting and
delinquency. All three endogenous variables—anger, low
self-control, and hostile view of relationships—show sig-
nificant associations with delinquency for both males and
females. Adding the mediators into the model produces a
76 % reduction in the coefficient for the effect of verbal
abuse on delinquency for males and a 51 % reduction for
females. Introducing the mediators also reduces the asso-
ciation between corporal punishment and delinquency to
insignificance for males. The coefficient between corporal
punishment and delinquency is reduced by about 55 %.
Figures 1and 2present reduced SEM path models as a
way of identifying the extent to which each of the
psychological mechanisms contribute to mediation of
parental hostility. Figure 1presents the model for males
and Fig. 2depicts the findings for females. Paths with a
t\1.5 have been eliminated to arrive at a reduced model.
The Chi-square difference between the fully recursive and
reduced models was not significant (males: Dv
p=.89; females: Dv
=2.762, p=.74) suggesting that
the reduced model is more parsimonious without compro-
mising fit.
Figure 1shows that for males, verbal abuse has an
indirect effect on delinquency through its association with
low self-control, anger, and hostile view of relationships.
The effect through low self-control appears to be especially
strong. The direct effect of emotional abuse fails to remain
statistically significant. Corporal punishment also shows an
indirect effect through both low self-control and hostile
view of relationships. In addition, monitoring has an indi-
rect effect on delinquency through its effect on low self-
control and a marginally significant main effect. Delin-
quency measured at wave 1 has an indirect effect on wave
2 delinquency through its association with low self-control
and hostile view of relationships, as well as a direct effect
on later delinquency.
Figure 2shows a slightly different pattern of results for
females. Verbal abuse has an indirect effect on delinquency
through its association with low self-control, anger, and
hostile view of relationships among females. It the effect
through anger, however, that is especially strong. The
direct effect of verbal abuse on delinquency has been
substantially reduced, but remains marginally statistically
significant. As noted above, corporal punishment does not
have a significant effect on any of the mediators for
Table 2 Standardized regression coefficients relating delinquency to exogenous and endogenous variables (N =323 males; 381 females)
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Males Females Males Females Males Females
Verbal abuse .146** .211*** .139** .196** 0.035 0.104
Corporal punishment 0.112** -.018 0.099* -.027 0.05 -.011
Warmth -.031** -.008 -.034 -.036 -.037 -.031
Monitoring -.075 -.110** -.105 -.104** -.074 -.073
Delinquency T1 0.302*** .408*** .300*** .425*** 0.251*** 0.355***
VA 9CP -.004 0.042
Anger 0.083* 0.194**
Low self-control 0.261*** 0.144***
HVR 0.171** 0.104**
Chi-Square 66.98*** 142.53*** 68.319*** 152.405*** 7.913* 10.650**
DF 5 5 6 6 3 3
CFI 1 1 1 1 0.97 0.98
RMSEA .00 (.00, .00) 0 (.00, .00) 0 (.00, .00) 0 (.00, .00) .07 (.01, .13) .08 (.01, .13)
SRMR 0.01 0 0 0 0.02 0.02
*p\.10, ** p\.05, *** p\.01
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110 1103
females. In addition, both warmth and monitoring exert an
indirect effect on delinquency through their association
with low self-control. A small but significant direct effect
of monitoring on delinquency is observed among females,
but the direct effect of warmth fails to reach significance.
Lastly, females’ delinquency at wave 1 has both a direct
effect on delinquency at wave 2 and an indirect effect
through its association with anger and low self-control.
We assessed the significance of differences in paths
between males and females using by using a model staking
procedure in Mplus. Our results indicated that the impact
of verbal abuse on self-control and the subsequent effect of
self-control on delinquency, while appearing to be differ-
ent, failed to show statistically significant differences. The
difference in the effect of verbal abuse on anger between
males and females was statistically significant, indicating
that this verbal abuse is a predictor of anger among females
but not males. However, the subsequent effect of anger on
delinquency did not differ between males and females,
although the coefficients appear to.
Table 3reports the significance of the indirect effects of
verbal and corporal punishment on delinquency depicted in
Figs. 1and 2. For males, both verbal abuse and corporal
punishment have significant indirect effects through self-
control and hostile view of relationships. Neither of these
forms of parental hostility has a significant indirect effect
through anger. Low self-control is a particularly important
mediator of verbal abuse, accounting for 46 % of the total
effect of this parental behavior on delinquency. Low self-
control and hostile view of relationships explain almost
equal amounts of the association between corporal pun-
ishment and delinquency. Turning to females, anger
accounts for about one-quarter of the total effect of verbal
abuse on delinquency. Hostile view of relationship explains
14 % of the effect of this parental behavior. The mediating
effect of low self-control accounts for 8 % of the total
effect and only approaches significance.
Past research has shown that African American youth are at
much higher risk for antisocial behavior than their Euro-
pean American counterparts (Gibbs 1998; Grisso 2004;
Fig. 1 Reduced structural equation model (N =323) males
1104 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
Pettit and Western 2004). Prior studies have provided
mixed results regarding the extent to which the popularity
of corporal punishment in the African American commu-
nity might be contributing to this risk. Whereas some
studies find that physical punishment increases the chances
that African American children will develop conduct
problems (McLoyd and Smith 2002; Pardini et al. 1997;
Simons et al. 2002), other research fails to find this effect
(see Dodge et al. 2005). For the most part, this research has
failed to consider the possibility that verbal abuse condi-
tions the effect of corporal punishment or the prospect that
any relationship between corporal punishment and conduct
problems might be spurious due to the association of both
with parents’ verbal abuse. Further, there has been no
consideration of the various competing theoretical mech-
anisms whereby parents’ corporal punishment and verbal
abuse might increase a child’s probability of engaging in
antisocial behavior.
In an effort to address these limitations, the current
study had two primary objectives. The first was to disen-
tangle the effect of verbal abuse and physical punishment
on the delinquency of African American youth. The second
was to examine potential intervening mechanisms that
might condition the effects of these two forms of hostility,
with a targeted focus on investigating gender differences.
Our results indicated that verbal abuse across a 2 year
period had a rather robust effect on increases in delin-
quency. Corporal punishment, however, had only a small
effect among males. We explored the possibility that cor-
poral punishment has an effect when it is administered
within the context of verbal abuse, but the interaction of the
two types of harsh parenting did not approach significance
for either males or females. Thus, our findings indicate
that, for African American youth, verbal abuse is an
important predictor of delinquency among both males and
females; and the effect of corporal punishment among this
group of adolescents is less substantial.
Our findings regarding corporal punishment are consis-
tent with prior research that found that this form of punish-
ment has little impact upon the probability of conduct
problems among African American youth (Lansford et al.
2004; Regalado et al. 2004; Deater-Deckard et al. 2005;
Fig. 2 Reduced structural equation model (N =381) females
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110 1105
Dodge et al. 2005). The findings in regards to corporal
punishment were in line with our predictions. Perhaps recent
studies reporting that corporal punishment increases the
antisocial behavior of African Americans children (McLoyd
and Smith 2002; Pardini et al. 1997; Simons et al. 2002)
would have found different results if they had controlled for
verbal forms of hostility such as verbal abuse. While we did
find some support for the effect of corporal punishment
within one gender group, the impact of verbal abuse on
adolescents was still a strong predictor of delinquency.
It is also striking that corporal punishment had an effect
among males only. While some past research has shown
that males are more likely to be spanked than females
(Dietz 2000; Day et al. 1998; Giles-Sims et al. 1995), there
were no significant differences in mean level of corporal
punishment when comparing males to females in our
sample. As such, we cannot attribute this finding to a
matter of frequency of experiencing punishment. Our
results may point to something unique about the influence
of corporal punishment among African American males,
though we cannot make a definitive argument comparing to
other racial/ethnic groups based upon this sample. It is also
possible that our findings can be attributed partially to the
age of our sample. As mentioned above, pre-adolescence is
a time when the use of corporal punishment is no longer
normative, and as a result the effects may be different
within this age group than among younger children. A few
studies have corroborated this and found corporal punish-
ment to be more detrimental among adolescents (Gunnoe
and Mariner 1997; Rothbaum and Weisz 1994). We find
that corporal punishment fosters characteristics such as low
self-control and a hostile view of relationships. Males who
are experiencing more corporal punishment from their
parents react by developing these characteristics, which in
turn influence them to engage in more delinquency. Verbal
abuse, on the other hand, appears to be detrimental for both
genders at this age, perhaps because it is viewed as less
justifiable and unwarranted, especially for a pre-teen that
may be capable of reasoning with their parent about a
discipline problem.
The second objective of our study was to examine the
extent to which the effect of harsh parenting is mediated by
psychological mechanisms identified by three of the more
popular theories of delinquency. We focused upon low self-
control (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990), hostile view of
relationships (Ainsworth et al. 1978; Bowlby 1969/1982;
Dodge 1986; Dodge and Pettit 2003; Lyons-Ruth 1996), and
feelings of anger (Agnew 1992,2001; Berkowitz 1990;
Colvin 2000). As predicted, our results indicated that all
three of these factors play a role in mediating the impact of
parents’ verbal abuse on delinquency. However, there were
some important differences by gender. For males, the major
mediator was self-control. It explains almost half of the total
effect, with hostile view of relationships mediating the rest.
For females, on the other hand, anger was the major mediator
of the effect of verbal abuse on delinquency. It explained
about a quarter of the total effect, with hostile view of rela-
tionships and self-control accounting for lesser amounts of
the mediation. This suggests that pre-adolescent males and
females respond differently to the verbal abuse of parents.
For males, the predominant avenue whereby parents’ verbal
abuse leads to conduct problems is via a reduction in self-
regulation and inhibition. In contrast, for females the primary
mediating mechanism is anger and frustration.
Based on these results, we suggest that mechanisms by
which verbal abuse and corporal punishment produce
delinquency look different when comparing males and
females. While we did not find an effect of corporal pun-
ishment on delinquency for females, we do not believe this
is indicative of a lack of negative consequences—in fact,
females may be affected even stronger by the use of non-
normative corporal punishment. It is possible that females
experience a different response to corporal punishment
from their parents, one that it is characterized by inter-
nalizing emotions such as depression instead of delin-
quency. For males, as described above, hostility (both
verbal and physical) appear to produce low levels of self-
control and more hostile views of relationships, both of
Table 3 Significance of the indirect effects relating the parenting
variables to delinquency (N =323 males; 381 females)
Predictors Mediators Delinquency Proportion
of indirect
effect (%)
Verbal abuse Low self-control .067
(t =3.290)
Anger .009
(t =1.211)
Hostile view of
(t =2.239)
Low self-control .028
(t =1.706)
Hostile view of
(t =1.736)
Verbal abuse Low self-control .016
(t =1.500)
Anger .054
(t =3.663)
Hostile view of
(t =2.047)
Low self-control
Hostile view of
1106 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
which influence offending. Hearing verbal insults and
derogating comments as a form of punishment, while
producing the same outcome (increased delinquency), does
so in a different way for each gender group.
Although our study extended past research on the effects
of harsh parenting among African Americans, it also suf-
fered certain limitations. First, because the sample studied
was entirely African-American, we cannot generalize our
results to other racial/ethnic groups or make direct com-
parisons to these groups. Indeed, it would be interesting to
see how the results would differ for these other groups.
Corporal punishment might exert a stronger effect on
conduct problems and, if so, it would be interesting to
examine the extent to which this association is mediated by
the three mediators included in our study.
Furthermore, we are not arguing that our results defin-
itively can show differences between racial groups as we
have only one group represented in our sample. However,
we are attempting to add to existing literature addressing
the effects of parenting on African American adolescents.
We do not believe our results are indicative of harsh par-
enting practices resulting in an increased rate of delin-
quency in comparison to other racial groups, but within
racial group. We are adding to a growing body of research
that focuses on African Americans as an understudied but
high risk population, and as such we need to understand
whether the processes leading to delinquency (many of
which have been studied frequently in the past among
white populations) also hold true for this population.
A second limitation is that all of our participants were
preteens of approximately the same age, viz. 10–12 years
old. Thus we cannot rule out the possibility that we would
have found more significant findings for corporal punish-
ment if we had included younger children. However, one
might argue that use of this age group increased the
chances of finding a significant effect. The absence of an
association between corporal punishment and conduct
problems among African American children is usually seen
as a consequence of the fact that physical discipline is
normative in the African American community and there-
fore accepted as fair by African American children (Dodge
et al. 2005). By focusing upon the preteens, our study
examined the effect of corporal punishment at an age when
physical discipline is less normative. Utilizing corporal
punishment with children who are generally considered too
old to be spanked most likely increases the chances that it
will produce a negative response (Simons et al. 2004).
Additionally, we used data gathered by questioning the
target child in the family for the current study. It is possible
that our results may have been different had we utilized
information from the primary caregivers of the adolescents
in the study. We felt that it was important to use the ado-
lescent’s report of their parent’s behavior, especially in
light of the measurement of verbal abuse, which may be
interpreted differently by the child versus the parent.
Regardless of the intention of the parent when engaging in
verbally hostile language towards their adolescent, if the
teen felt their behavior was verbally abusive, we hoped to
capture that. We believe that the child’s experience of
parenting is the best indicator of incidents of corporal
punishment and verbal abuse, and that parents may be
more reluctant to report these behaviors.
Finally, our study was limited in that it only considered
conduct problems as an outcome. Past research indicates that
harsh parenting, including corporal punishment, may lead to
sadness, low self-esteem, and depression (Christie-Mizell
et al. 2008). Thus, our results are only relevant to antisocial
behavior; a different pattern of findings would most likely
would have been obtained had we focused upon internalizing
problems as an outcome. As mentioned above, we speculate
that results for females may be different when using an
internalizing outcome such as depression; we might find an
effect of corporal punishment within this context.
In conclusion, we attempted to disentangle the effect of
verbal abuse and corporal punishment on the conduct
problems of African American youth. Our results indicate
that verbal abuse may be more important than corporal
punishment, at least in predicting the behavior of females.
In addition, our results point to the importance of including
verbal abuse as well as physical punishment in studies
investigating the influence of parenting practices on
delinquency. Further, we found that the mechanisms that
mediate the impact of verbal abuse on conduct problems
vary by gender. Much of the effect of verbal abuse was
mediated by low self-control for males, whereas anger/
frustration was the primary mediator for females. There is a
need for future studies that investigate the extent to which
these findings hold for younger individuals and for persons
from other racial/ethnic groups.
Acknowledgments This research was supported by the National
Institute of Mental Health (MH48165, MH62669) and the Center for
Disease Control (029136-02). Additional funding for this project was
provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Agnew, R. (1985). A revised strain theory of delinquency. Social
Forces, 64, 151–167.
Agnew, R. (1992). Foundation for a general strain theory of crime and
delinquency. Criminology, 30, 47–87.
Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain
theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime
and delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delin-
quency, 38, 319–361.
Agnew, R. (2006). Pressured into crime: An overview of general
strain theory. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110 1107
Ainsworth, M. D., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978).
Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange
situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical
manual of mental disorders, 4th ed., DSM-IV. Washington, DC:
American Psychiatric Association.
Begle, A. M., Hanson, R. F., Danielson, C. K., McCart, M. R.,
Ruggiero, K. J., Amstader, A. B., et al. (2011). Longitudinal
pathways of victimization, substance use, and delinquency:
Findings from the National Survey of Adolescents. Addictive
Behaviors, 36, 682–689.
Berkowitz, L. (1990). On the formation and regulation of anger and
aggression: A cognitive-associationistic analysis. American
Psychologist, 45, 494–503.
Berlin, L. J., Ispa, J. M., Fine, M. A., Malone, P. S., Brooks-Gunn, J.,
Brady-Smith, C., et al. (2009). Correlates and consequences of
spanking and verbal punishment for low-income white, African-
American, and Mexican American toddlers. Child Development,
80, 1403–1420.
Bowlby, J. (1969/1982). Attachment and Loss, vol. I, Attachment.
New York: Basic Books.
Brezina, T. (1998). Adolescent maltreatment and delinquency: The
question of intervening processes. Journal of Research in Crime
and Delinquency, 35, 71–99.
Broidy, L. (2001). A test of general strain theory. Criminology, 39,
Broidy, L. M., & Agnew, R. (1997). Gender and crime: A general
strain theory perspective. Journal of Research in Crime &
Delinquency, 34, 275–306.
Christie-Mizell, C. A., Pryor, E. M., & Grossman, E. R. B. (2008).
Child depressive symptoms, spanking, and emotional support:
Differences between African American and European American
Youth. Family Relations, 57, 335–350.
Colvin, M. (2000). Crime and coercion: An integrated theory of
chronic criminality. New York: St. Martins Press.
Conger, R. D., Conger, K. J., Elder, G. H., Lorenz, F. O., Simons,
R. L., & Whitbeck, L. B. (1992). A family process model of
economic hardship and influences on adjustment of early
childhood boys. Child Development, 63, 526–541.
Conger, R. D., & Elder, G. H. (1994). Families in troubled times:
Adaptation to change in rural America. New York: Aldine.
Day, R. D., Peterson, G. W., & McCracken, C. (1998). Predicting
spanking of younger and older children by mothers and fathers.
Journal of Marriage and Family, 60, 79–94.
Deater-Deckard, K., Dodge, K. A., & Sorbring, E. (2005). Cultural
differences in the effects of physical punishment. In M. Rutter &
M. Tienda (Eds.), Ethnicity and causal mechanisms (pp.
204–226). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dietz, T. L. (2000). Disciplining children: Characteristics associated
with the use of corporal punishment. Child Abuse and Neglect,
24, 1529–1542.
Dodge, K. A. (1986). A social information processing model of social
competence in children. In M. P. Perlmuter (Ed.), Minnesota
symposium in child psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.
Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1990). Mechanisms in the
cycle of violence. Science, 250, 1678–1683.
Dodge, K. A., McLoyd, V. C., & Lansford, J. E. (2005). The cultural
context of physically disciplining children. In V. C. McLoyd, N.
E. Hill, & K. A. Dodge (Eds.), African American family life:
Ecological and cultural diversity (pp. 243–263). New York:
Dodge, K. A., & Pettit, G. S. (2003). A biopsychosocial model of the
development of chronic conduct problems in adolescence.
Developmental Psychology, 39, 349–371.
Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1994). Effects of physical
maltreatment on the development of peer relations. Development
and Psychopathology, 6, 43–55.
Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Valente, E. (1995). Social
information-processing patterns partially mediate the effect of
early physical abuse on later conduct problems. Journal of
Abnormal Psychology, 104, 632–643.
Eysenck, S. B. G., & Eysenck, H. J. (1977). The place of
impulsiveness and venturesomeness in a dimensional system of
personality description. British Journal of Social and Clinical
Psychology, 16, 57–68.
Farrington, D. P., & Joliffe, D. (2010). Why are boys more likely to
be referred to juvenile court? Gender differences in official and
self-reported delinquency. Victims & Offenders, 5, 25–44.
Gershoff, E. T. (2002). Corporal punishment by parents and
associated child behavior experiences: A meta-analytic and
theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 539–579.
Gibbs, J. T. (1998). High-risk behaviors in African American youth:
Conceptual and methodological issues in research. In V. C. McLoyd
& L. Steinberg (Eds.), Studying minority adolescents: Concep-
tual, methodological and theoretical issues (pp. 263–287).
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Gibbons, F. X., Gerrard, M., Willis, M. J., and Brody, G. (2004).
Perceived discrimination and substance use in African American
parents and their children: A panel study. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology,86, 517–529.
Giles-Sims, J., Straus, M. A., & Sugarman, D. B. (1995). Child,
maternal, and family characteristics associated with spanking.
Family Relations, 44, 170–176.
Giordano, P. C., Cernkovich, S. A., Rudolph, J. L. (2002). Gender,
crime, and desistance: Toward a theory of cognitive transfor-
mation. American Journal of Sociology,107, 990–1064.
Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime.
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Grisso, T. (2004). Double Jeopardy: Adolescent offenders with mental
disorders. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Grogan-Kaylor, A., & Otis, M. D. (2007). The predictors of parental
use of corporal punishment. Family Relations, 56, 80–91.
Gunnoe, M. L., & Mariner, C. L. (1997). Toward a developmental-
contextual model of the effects of parental spanking on
children’s aggression. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent
Medicine, 151, 768–775.
Heimer, K., & De Coster, S. (1999). The gendering of violent
delinquency. Criminology, 37, 277–318.
Horn, I. B., Joseph, J. G., & Cheng, T. L. (2004). Nonabusive physical
punishment and child behavior among African-American chil-
dren: A systematic review. Journal of the National Medical
Association, 96, 1162–1168.
Jang, S. J. (2007). Gender differences in strain, negative emotions,
and coping behaviors: A General Strain Theory approach.
Justice Quarterly, 24, 523–553.
Jang, S. J., & Johnson, B. R. (2003). Strain, negative emotions, and
deviant coping among African-Americans: A test of general
stain theory. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 19, 79–105.
Jang, S. J., & Johnson, B. R. (2005). Gender, religiosity, and reactions
to strain among African-Americans. Sociological Quarterly, 46,
Kaufman, J. M., Rebellon, C. J., Thaxton, S., & Agnew, R. (2008). A
general strain theory of racial differences in criminal offending.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 17,
Kendall, P. C., & Williams, C. L. (1982). Assessing the cognitive and
behavioral components of children’s self-management. In P.
Karoly & F. H. Kanfer (Eds.), Self-management and behavior
change. New York: Pergamon Press.
1108 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
Lansford, J. E., Criss, M. M., Laird, R. D., Shaw, D. S., Pettit, G. S.,
Bates, J. E., et al. (2011). Reciprocal relations between parents’
physical discipline and children’s externalizing behavior during
middle childhood and adolescence. Development and Psycho-
pathology, 23, 225–238.
Lansford, J. E., Deater-Deckard, K., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., &
Pettit, G. S. (2004). Ethnic differences in the link between
physical discipline and later adolescent externalizing behaviors.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 801–812.
Lansford, J. E., Dodge, K. A., Malone, P. S., Bacchini, D., Zelli, A.,
Chaudhary, N., et al. (2005). Physical discipline and children’s
adjustment: Cultural normativeness as a moderator. Child
Development, 76, 1234–1246.
Larzelere, K. (2000). Child outcomes of nonabusive and customary
physical punishment by parents: An updated literature review.
Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review,3, 199–221.
Larzelere, R. E., Sather, P. R., Schneider, W. N., Larson, D. B., &
Pike, P. L. (1998). Punishment enhances reasoning’s effective-
ness as a disciplinary response to toddlers. Journal of Marriage
and the Family, 60, 388–403.
Loos, M. E., & Alexander, P. C. (1997). Differential effects
associated with self-reported. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,
12, 340–361.
Lyons-Ruth, K. (1996). Attachment relationships among children
with aggressive behavior problems: The role of disorganized
early attachment patterns. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 64, 64–73.
Lyons-Ruth, K., Connell, D. B., Grunebaum, H. U., & Botein, S.
(1990). Infants at social risk: Maternal depression and family
support services as mediators of infant development and security
of attachment. Child Development, 61, 85–98.
Lyons-Ruth, K., Repachyoli, B., McLeod, S., & Silva, E. (1991).
Disorganized attachment behavior in infancy: Short-term stabil-
ity, maternal and infant correlates and risk-related sub-types.
Development and Psychopathology, 3, 377–396.
Mazerolle, P., & Piquero, A. (1997). Violent responses to strain: An
examination of conditioning influences. Violence and Victims,
12, 323–343.
Mazerolle, P., & Piquero, A. (1998). Linking exposure to strain with
anger: An investigation of deviant adaptations. Journal of
Criminal Justice, 26, 195–211.
McKee, L., Roland, E., Coffelt, N., Olson, A., Forehand, R., Massari,
C., et al. (2007). Harsh discipline and child problem behaviors:
The roles of positive parenting and gender. Journal of Family
Violence, 22, 187–196.
McLoyd, V. C., & Smith, J. (2002). Physical discipline and behavior
problems in African American, European American, and
Hispanic children: Emotional support as a moderator. Journal
of Marriage and the Family, 64, 40–53.
Miller, S., Malone, P. S., & Dodge, K. A. (2010). Developmental
trajectories of boys’ and girls’ delinquency: Sex differences and
links to later adolescent outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Child
Psychology, 38, 1021–1032.
Morris, S. Z., & Gibson, C. L. (2011). Corporal punishment’s
influence on children’s aggressive and delinquent behavior.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38, 818–839.
Muthen, L. K., & Muthen, B. O. (1997–2008). Mplus (computer
program). Los Angeles, CA: Muthen and Muthen.
Pagani, L., Tremblay, R. E., Nagin, D., Zoccolillo, M., Vitaro, F., &
McDuff, P. (2004). Risk factor models for adolescent verbal and
physical aggression toward mothers. International Journal of
Behavioral Development, 28, 528–537.
Pagani, L., Tremblay, R. E., Nagin, D., Zoccolillo, M., Vitaro, F., &
McDuff, P. (2009). Risk factor models for adolescent verbal and
physical aggression toward fathers. Journal of Family Violence,
24, 173–182.
Paolucci, E. O., & Violato, C. (2004). A meta-analysis of the
published research on the affective, cognitive, and behavioral
affects of corporal punishment. The Journal of Psychology, 138,
Pardini, D. A., Fite, P. J., & Burke, J. D. (2008). Bidirectional
associations between parenting practices and conduct problems
in boys from childhood to adolescence: The moderating effect of
age and African American ethnicity. Journal of Abnormal and
Child Psychology, 36, 647–662.
Pardini, D. A., Lochman, J. E., & Powell, N. (1997). The develop-
ment of callous-unemotional traits and antisocial behavior: Are
there shared an/or unique predictors? Journal of Clinical Child
& Adolescent Psychology,36, 319–333.
Pettit, B., & Western, B. (2004). Mass Imprisonment and the life
course. American Sociological Review, 69, 151–169.
Piquero, N. L., & Sealock, M. D. (2000). Generalizing general strain
theory: An examination of an offending population. Justice
Quarterly, 17, 449–484.
Piquero, N. L., & Sealock, M. D. (2004). Gender and general strain
theory: A preliminary test of Broidy & Agnew’s gender/GST
hypotheses. Justice Quarterly,21, 125–158.
Piqureo, N. L., & Sealock, M. D. (2010). Race, crime, and general
strain theory. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 8, 170–186.
Regalado, M., Sareen, H., Inkelas, M., Wissow, L. S., & Halfon, N. (2004).
Parents’ discipline of young children: Results from the National
Survey of Early Childhood Health. Pediatrics, 113, 1952–1958.
Rothbaum, F., & Weisz, J. R. (1994). Parental caregiving and child
externalizing behavior in nonclinical samples: A meta-analysis.
Psychological Bulletin, 116, 55–74.
Schaffer, D., Schwab-Stone, M., Fisher, P., Cohen, P., Piacentini, J.,
Davies, M., et al. (1993). The Diagnostic Interview Schedule for
Children-Revised Version (DISC-R). Perparation, field testing,
inter-rater reliability, and acceptability. Journal of the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 32, 643–650.
Schwartz, J., & Rookey, B. D. (2008). The narrowing gender gap in
arrests: Assessing competing explanations using self-report,
traffic fatality, and official data on drunk driving, 1980–2004.
Criminology, 46, 637–671.
Simons, R. L., Chao, W., Conger, R., & Elder, G. H. (2001). Quality
of parenting as mediator of the effect of childhood defiance on
adolescent friendship choices and delinquency: A growth curve
analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63, 63–79.
Simons, R. L., Johnson, C., Conger, R., & Elder, G. H. (1998). A test
of latent trait versus life course perspectives on the stability of
adolescent antisocial behavior. Criminology, 36, 217–244.
Simons, R. L., Lin, K. H., Gordon, L. C., Brody, G., Murry, V., &
Conger, R. D. (2002). Community contextual differences in the
effect of parental behavior on child conduct problems: A
multilevel analysis with an African-American sample. Journal of
Marriage and the Family, 64, 331–345.
Simons R. L., & Associates. (1996). Understanding differences
between divorced and intact families: Stress, interaction, and
child outcome. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Simons, R. L., Simons, L. G., Burt, C. H., Brody, G. H., & Cutrona,
C. (2005). Collective efficacy, authoritative parenting, and
delinquency: A longitudinal test of a model integrating commu-
nity- and family-level processes. Criminology, 36, 217–244.
Simons, R. L., Simons, L. G., Chen, Y. F., Brody, G. H., & Lin, K. H.
(2007). Identifying the psychological factors that mediate the
association between parenting and delinquency. Criminology,
45, 481–517.
Simons, R. L., Simons, L. G., & Hancock, D. (2011). Linking family
processes and delinquency: Issues, theories and research find-
ings. In D. Bishop & B. Feld (Eds.), Handbook on juvenile
delinquency and juvenile justice. New York: Oxford University
J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110 1109
Simons, R. L., Simons, L. G., & Wallace, L. E. (2004). Families,
delinquency, and crime: Linking society’s most basic institution
to antisocial behavior. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.
Stacks, A. M., Oshio, T., Gerard, J., & Roe, J. (2009). The moderating
effect of parental warmth on the association between spanking
and child aggression: A longitudinal approach. Infant and Child
Development, 18, 178–194.
Steffensmeier, D., Schwartz, J., Zhong, H., & Ackerman, J. (2005).
An assessment of recent trends in girls’ violence using diverse
longitudinal sources: Is the gender gap closing? Criminology, 43,
Straus, M. A. (1994). Beating the devil out of them: Physical
punishment in American families. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/
Lexington Books.
Straus, M. A., & Stewart, J. H. (1999). Corporal punishment by
American parents: National data on prevalence, chronicity,
severity, and duration, in relation to child and family charac-
teristics. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2,
Tittle, C. R., & Paternoster, R. (2000). Social deviance and crime:
An organizational and theoretical approach. Los Angeles:
Vaish, A., Grossmann, T., & Woodward, A. (2008). Not all emotions
are created equal: The negativity bias in social-emotional
development. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 383–403.
Vissing, Y. M., Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., & Harrop, J. W. (1991).
Verbal aggression by parents and psychosocial problems of
children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 15, 223–230.
Wolfe, D. A., & McIsaac, C. (2011). Distinguishing between poor/
dysfunctional parenting and child emotional maltreatment. Child
Abuse and Neglect, 35, 802–813.
Wright, M. O., Crawford, E., & Castillo, D. D. (2009). Childhood
emotional maltreatment and later psychological distress among
college students: The mediating role of maladaptive schemas.
Child Abuse and Neglect, 33, 59–68.
Author Biographies
Sara Z. Evans is an Assistant Professor in the department of Justice
Studies at the University of West Florida. Her research interests
include juvenile delinquency, the effect of parental socialization on
behavior problems in children, and quantitative methodologies. Most
recently, her work has focused on the effects of harsh discipline on
both internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children.
Leslie Gordon Simons is an Associate Professor in the Department
of Child and Family Development at the University of Georgia. She is
a family sociologist studying the intergenerational transmission of
problem behaviors. Specifically, her research focuses on the ways in
which family processes such as parenting are related to risky sex,
intimate partner violence, and sexual coercion in adolescence and
emerging adulthood.
Ronald L. Simons is a Distinguished Research Professor in the
Department of Sociology and the Owens Institute for Behavioral
Research at the University of Georgia. His research focuses on the
manner in which community factors, family interaction, peer
processes, and genetic variation combine to influence life course
trajectories of internalizing and externalizing problems.
1110 J Youth Adolescence (2012) 41:1095–1110
Copyright of Journal of Youth & Adolescence is the property of Springer Science & Business Media B.V. and
its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's
express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
... Overall, boys are more likely than girls to be recipients of physical punishment (Mckee et al., 2007;Grogan-Kaylor & Otis, 2007) and to display antisocial behavior as a result of physical punishment (Evans et al., 2012). According to Evans et al. (2012), one reason for this would be that boys who experience physical punishment develop poor self-control and hostility, which influence them to act aggressively and engage in antisocial behavior. ...
... Overall, boys are more likely than girls to be recipients of physical punishment (Mckee et al., 2007;Grogan-Kaylor & Otis, 2007) and to display antisocial behavior as a result of physical punishment (Evans et al., 2012). According to Evans et al. (2012), one reason for this would be that boys who experience physical punishment develop poor self-control and hostility, which influence them to act aggressively and engage in antisocial behavior. Thus, boys tend to respond to physical punishment with antisocial behavior while girls usually become depressed (Jang, 2007). ...
Full-text available
Despite extensive studies on the relationship between armed conflict and behavioral problems among adolescents, the micro-level mechanisms through which the former influences the latter are not well understood. The current study examines the relationship between exposure to the Fulani herdsmen attacks among Igbo adolescents in Southeastern Nigeria and antisocial behavior. Using a mediation analysis, it was examined whether physical punishment mediated the relationship. A sample of 385 secondary school students (227 girls, 157 boys; M age = 16.3; SD = 1.35) completed a questionnaire during class. It was found that exposure to the Fulani herdsmen attacks predicted antisocial behavior among the adolescents, and the effect was weakly mediated by the experiences of physical punishment at home. The findings suggest that living in an environment of armed conflict may lead to increased levels of antisocial behavior in adolescents.
... Other research has traced the origins of self-control to genetic factors, neuropsychological deficits, and abnormalities in the frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain responsible for impulse control, forward thinking memory, rational reflection, and related cognitive processes (Beaver et al., 2007;Meldrum et al., 2018). Regardless of the precise mechanism, self-control is a significant predictor of delinquency that also mediates the effects of several background factors on delinquency, including religious practices, neuropsychological deficits, MAOA activity, depressive symptoms, corporal punishment, and child abuse (Bunch et al., 2018;Evans et al., 2012;Janssen et al., 2016;Perez et al., 2018;Remster, 2014;Tomlinson et al., 2022). ...
... Research has also shown that experiencing a high number of ACEs is associated with higher levels of impulsivity, a trait closely related to low self-control (Lovallo, 2013;Shin et al., 2018). Additional studies have found that ACEs are associated with other concepts linked to self-control development, such as negative emotionality (Wolff & Baglivio, 2017), externalizing behaviors (Hunt et al., 2017;Muniz et al., 2019), empathy (Narvey et al., 2021), poor delay of gratification (Evans et al., 2012), and a lack of future orientation (Craig, 2019). ...
Considerable research has shown that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with the development of self-control and delinquent behaviors. Still, no studies have explicitly examined ACEs, low self-control, and delinquency to determine if they are jointly associated, including whether this relationship varies by gender. The current study examines this important gap in existing literature. Using data from the Fragile Families and Childhood Wellbeing Study (FFCW; n = 3,232), we uncover that low self-control mediates the relationship between early ACEs and delinquency and that this relationship exists for both girls and boys.
... Orang tua juga bisa mengubah pola asuh dari yang kurang baik menjadi lebih baik . (Evans et al., 2012). Dalam penelitian ini orang tua mengatakan bahwa hal yang bisa dilakukan dalam mencegah kekerasan verbal pada anak adalah orang tua harus belajar untuk mengendalikan emosinya. ...
Full-text available
Penelitian dalam artikel ini dilatarbelakangi dengan penelitian terdahulu bahwa masih banyaknya kasus kekerasan verbal oleh orang tua kepada anak dengan sadar dan tidak sadar. Oleh karenanya perlu dilakukan kajian lebih dalam terkait persepsi orang tua single parent yang berprofesi guru mengenai kekerasan verbal. Penelitian menggunakan metode kualitatif dengan pendekatan fenomenalogis. Tujuannya agar mengetahui tanggapan orang tua single parent yang berprofesi guru terkait kekerasan verbal, faktor apa yang membuat mereka melakukannya serta upaya pencegahannya. Responden berjumlah 4 orang tua single parent yang berprofesi guru. Teknik pengambilan data dilakukan menggunakan wawancara. Hasil temuan penelitian adalah orang tua sudah memahami konsep kekerasan verbal namun masih melakukannnya bahkan secara sadar. Orang tua masih tidak bisa mengendalikan emosi sehingga menggunakan teriakan untuk dijadikan pacuan agar anak disiplin. Kesimpulannya, kekerasan verbal tidak akan terjadi jika orang tua mampu mengajari anak agar disiplin tanpa meneriaki mereka.
... Moreover, verbal abuse and corporal punishment used during the abuse were found to be related to delinquent behaviour among youth. The usage of corporal punishment was also found to promote low self-control and develop a hostile view on relationships among youths [4]. ...
Conference Paper
Mental health issues are a serious problem globally and have worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic. School students are experiencing high levels of stress due to the closure of schools. Students have to quickly adapt to online learning with minimal guidance during the early stage of the pandemic. Subsequently, students are allowed to go to school on a rotation basis. Therefore, a conducive home environment with support from parents plays an important role in helping students to cope with the uncertainties during the pandemic. We conducted a cross-sectional survey study where 761 high school students, aged between 13 to 18 years old were recruited in Malaysia. There was 468 female and 293 male students who participated in this study. Students’ mental health was measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) while parental practices were measured using the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire. Parental practices were measured separately for father and mother in terms of positive parenting, involvement, poor monitoring and corporal punishment. Pearson correlation analysis showed that all parental practices were correlated significantly with mental health issues among high school students. However, based on the multiple regression analysis, only paternal poor monitoring, maternal corporal punishment, maternal positive parenting and paternal corporal punishment significantly predicted students’ mental health with paternal poor monitoring being the strongest predictor of students’ mental health. This study supported the importance of utilizing good parental practices in order to reduce mental health issues among students.
This study’s purpose was to determine whether the personality trait dimensions of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness mediate the relationship between mid-adolescent inconsistent/angry parenting and late adolescent delinquency. A sample of 3701 youth from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children served as participants in this study. A path analysis with two independent variables (inconsistent parenting, angry parenting) and five mediators (Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Openness) revealed that, consistent with predictions, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were the only two personality dimensions to mediate the angry parenting–later delinquency relationship. These results suggest that personality dimensions known to correlate with offending behavior (i.e. low Agreeableness and low Conscientiousness) may be among the mechanisms responsible for linking social conditions like parenting punishment styles marked by angry parenting to youth behaviors like delinquency.
Background: Children growing up in a vulnerable and unstable family environment including child maltreatment, poor family functioning, and low social-economic status, are at higher risk of developing undesirable behavioral outcomes compared to peers in the general population. School life plays a critical role during the development of adolescents. Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine the role of school connectedness in the relationship between child maltreatment and aggressive behavior. Participants and setting: This study employed the Fragile Family and Child Well-being Study - Year 15. The final analytic sample size is 2285 families. Methods: Mediation analyses were conducted to evaluate the impact of CPS on child aggressive behavior mediated by school connectedness using OLS regression with robust standard errors. The bootstrap was used to estimate the standard error of the indirect effect. Results: The total effect of CPS contact on child aggressive behaviors was 0.14 (p < .001). The direct effect of CPS contact on child aggressive behavior was 0.13 (p < .001). The indirect effect, that school connectedness significantly mediated the relationship between CPS and child aggressive behavior, was tested and found statistically significant (Coef. = 0.01, p < .05). Conclusions: Findings of the mediation model suggest that interventions targeted at improving school connectedness among adolescents involved in the child welfare system may promote positive outcomes by reducing aggressive behaviors among youth growing in fragile families. On-going trainings are needed for schoolteachers and social workers to better engage adolescents with child maltreatment at school.
Purpose: This impact evaluation report describes the effects of the “Parenting Program for Disadvantaged Families” in the Czech Republic. We provide a detailed look at the quantitative data on treatment and control families in a program delivered by social workers to reduce the risk of children's misconduct. Method: The study specifies the results of two waves of quantitative research based on Parenting Young Children (PARYC), Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and items measuring parents’ attitudes toward punishment of their children. Results: The results of parental self-reported competencies and parent-reported children's behavior indicate that there was a statistically significant impact of the intervention. Discussion: There was a large effect on Supporting Positive Behavior (PARYC), and Prosocial Behavior and Peer Relationship dimensions of the SDQ. Parental practices and attitudes toward punishment are further explored, although the conclusions remain ambiguous.
The effects of parental migration on behavioral and psychological outcomes of children left behind (LBC) in rural China have drawn much public and research attention. Surprisingly, despite much research attention to this highly disadvantaged group, we know little about whether parental migration and alternative caretaking arrangements influence the exposure of this group to corporal punishment and neglect – key predictors of a myriad of child developmental outcomes such as educational performance, delinquency, and mental wellbeing. To address this research gap, we used a probability sample of approximately 1,200 middle-school students in Jiangxi province to investigate whether parental migration and alternative caretaking arrangements influenced children’s exposure to corporal punishment and neglect. Our models revealed that being taken care of by grandparents significantly decreased the odds of exposure to corporal punishment among children. Meanwhile, our results indicated that child neglect is prevalent among all children regardless of living and caretaking arrangements. Suggesting a protective role that grandparenting plays in LBC families against corporal punishment, these findings enrich the literature on child abuse and neglect in general and contribute to the understanding of the effect of parental migration on LBC’s development and experience in particular. Finally, policy recommendations are offered based on these findings.
Full-text available
Child maltreatment and harsh parenting both include harmful actions by parents toward children that are physical (e.g., spanking, slapping) or emotional (e.g., threatening, yelling). The distinction between these two constructs, in meaning and measurement, is often unclear, leading to inconsistent research and policy. This study systematically identified, reviewed, and compared parent-reported child maltreatment (N = 7) and harsh parenting (N = 18) instruments. The overlap in parenting behaviors was 73%. All physical behaviors that were measured in harsh parenting instruments (e.g., spanking, beating up) were also measured in child maltreatment instruments. Unique physical behaviors measured in maltreatment instruments include twisting body parts and choking. All emotional behaviors in maltreatment instruments were included in harsh parenting instruments, and vice versa. Our findings suggest similar, but not identical, operationalizations of child maltreatment and harsh parenting. Our findings can help guide discussions on definitions, operationalizations, and their consequences for research on violence against children.
Full-text available
Current theories of psychological trauma assume that posttraumatic symptoms originate from stress reactions caused by extremely adverse life experiences. Since the diagnosis of PTSD is restricted to events that involve threats to the physical or sexual integrity of a person, such as accidents and physical and sexual violence, these theories are not well suited to explain the psychopathological consequences of severe violations of one's social integrity, such as emotional abuse and bullying. However, it is evident that social threats contribute to a broad range of mental disorders and increase symptom severity in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. The aim of the Physical and Social Trauma (PAST) framework is to extend current memory theories of psychological trauma to incorporate threats to a person's social integrity. Within this perspective, the harmful effects of events that involve social threats result from violations of core social motives such as the need for status and belonging that bring about intense affective reactions, including despair and defeat. Within associative threat structures, these emotions are tied to the stimulus characteristics of the experiences and can be re-activated in social situations. The resulting psychopathology transcends PTSD criteria and other current classifications and suggests a transdiagnostic perspective of psychological trauma. Implications for treatment and further directions for research are discussed.
Full-text available
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Although the merits of parents using corporal punishment to discipline children have been argued for decades, a thorough understanding of whether and how corporal punishment affects children has not been reached. Toward this end, the author first presents the results of meta-analyses of the association between parental corporal punishment and 11 child behaviors and experiences. Parental corporal punishment was associated with all child constructs, including higher levels of immediate compliance and aggression and lower levels of moral internalization and mental health. The author then presents a process-context model to explain how parental corporal punishment might cause particular child outcomes and considers alternative explanations. The article concludes by identifying 7 major remaining issues for future research.
We propose a family process model that links economic stress in family life to prosocial and problematic adolescent adjustment. Employing a sample of 205 seventh-grade boys aged 12 to 14 years (M = 12.7) and living in intact families in the rural Midwest, the theoretical constructs in the model were measured using both trained observer and family member reports. In general, results were consistent with the proposed model. Objective economic conditions such as per capita income and unstable work were related to parents' emotional status and behaviors through their perceptions of increased economic pressures such as the inability to pay monthly bills. These pressures were associated with depression and demoralization for both parents, which was related to marital conflict and disruptions in skillful parenting. Disrupted parenting mediated the relations between the earlier steps in the stress process and adolescent adjustment. The emotions and behaviors of both mothers and fathers were almost equally affected by financial difficulties, and disruptions in each parent's child-rearing behaviors had adverse consequences for adolescent development.
The predictors of violence and delinquency in childhood and adolescence include attributes of the child (e.g., temperament, intelligence), the home environment (e.g., harsh parenting, maltreatment, domestic violence, family size and structure, parent mental illness, and family antisocial activity), the peer group (e.g., deviant peers, peer rejection), and the community (e.g., school and neighborhood factors; Wasserman et al., 2003). These factors correlate with or predict antisocial behavior in multiple ethnic groups (Rowe, Vazsonyi,&Flannery, 1994; Vazsonyi&Flannery, 1997). However, there is one noteworthy ethnic group difference. The customary use of physical punishment is associated with more aggressive behavior problems among European Americans but not among African Americans – although physical abuse predicts behavior problems equally well across these and other ethnic groups. Ascertaining the nature and cause of this ethnic group difference is one of the most pressing questions for research on the development of antisocial behavior (Farrington, Loeber,&Stouthamer-Loeber, 2003). By conducting cross-cultural research, researchers can utilize the discovery of an ethnic group difference to test competing hypotheses about causal mechanisms (Rutter, this volume). In the current chapter, we consider whether the mechanisms linking harsh parenting and children's aggressive behavior problems generalize beyond middle-class Caucasians. Researchers often assume that a mechanism is generalizable across human populations, but the assumption is rarely tested. Discovering whether physical discipline and abuse are universal risk factors for the development of aggressive behavior problems has implications for theory as well as applications in prevention, intervention, and social policy.
There is compelling evidence that childhood conduct problems are a strong predictor of subsequent involvement in antisocial behavior. This article explores recent findings, issues, and controversies regarding the role of parenting in the development of youth and adolescent behavior problems. It focuses on two issues, which are, the dimensions of parenting that foster antisocial behavior and the mechanisms whereby these practices produce this effect. It begins by examining the extent to which studies support the contentions of popular theories regarding the parental behaviors that lead to delinquency and the mediating psychological changes in the child that account for this effect. Following this, it links family structure and delinquency to consider the impact of family structure on child and adolescent delinquency. Finally, it examines behavioral genetics research and provides a brief review of behavioral and molecular genetics studies relating to the issue of parenting and delinquency.
Although growth in the U.S. prison population over the past twenty-five years has been widely discussed, few studies examine changes in inequality in imprisonment. We study penal inequality by estimating lifetime risks of imprisonment for black and white men at different levels of education. Combining administrative, survey, and census data, we estimate that among men born between 1965 and 1969, 3 percent of whites and 20 percent of blacks had served time in prison by their early thirties. The risks of incarceration are highly stratified by education. Among black men born during this period, 30 percent of those without college education and nearly 60 percent of high school dropouts went to prison by 1999. The novel pervasiveness of imprisonment indicates the emergence of incarceration as a new stage in the life course of young low-skill black men.
We examine parents' characteristics that influence the incidence of spanking as a discipline strategy in younger and older children. Data were analyzed from the National Survey of Families and Households. We found that different combinations of blocks of predictor variables influenced spanking in eight subsamples. Belsky's model of competent parenting was employed to explain differences in spanking as a discipline strategy. Subsample profiles of spanking suggest that a variety of interventions are needed to decrease this frequently used parenting strategy.