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J Natl Med Assoc. Sep 2004; 96(9): 1162–1168.
PMCID: PMC2568462

Nonabusive physical punishment and child behavior among African-American children: a systematic review.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The use of nonabusive physical punishment as a form of discipline has been greatly debated in the scientific and popular literature. Impact on child behavioral outcomes has frequently been found; however, the effects of its use are not clear, particularly for African-American children. This systematic review of the literature examined the impact of exposure to nonabusive physical punishment on the behavior of African-American children. METHODS: A search was conducted of PubMed and Psyclnfo from 1970 to 2000 using the key terms: corporal punishment, physical punishment, disciplinary practices, and discipline and parenting. Studies that described ethnicity of the population and included a majority of a well-described African-American population were included. Each study was required to include measurable data on child behavioral outcomes and at least one measure of discipline that assessed use of nonabusive physical punishment in children 0-14 years of age. RESULTS: All seven included studies used lower socioeconomic status (SES) and/or urban African-American populations. Study design and rural versus urban populations differentiated beneficial and detrimental outcomes. In all longitudinal studies, African-American children had beneficial or neutral outcomes. DISCUSSION: This review suggests that it is possible that there are benefits to nonabusive physical punishment for African-American children. However, needed are further longitudinal studies that better assess the multiple confounders that impact the use of discipline, such as SES, parental education level, and exposure to community or domestic violence.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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