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Psychol Bull. 2002 Jul;128(4):580-9; discussion 602-11.

Ordinary physical punishment: is it harmful? Comment on Gershoff (2002).

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  • 1Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley 94720-1690, USA.


E. T. Gershoff (2002) reviewed processes that might mediate and contexts that might moderate the associations between corporal punishment (CP) and child behaviors and provided an account of the methodological weaknesses of the research reviewed in her meta-analyses. In this examination of Gershoff, the authors argue that the biases and confounds in the meta-analyses further limit any causal inferences that can be drawn concerning the detrimental "effects" of CP on associated child behaviors. The authors suggest that undesirable child outcomes are associated with CP because the construct marks inept harsh parenting and conclude that although the harmful effects of physical abuse and other extreme punishments are clear, a blanket injunction against spanking is not justified by the evidence presented by Gershoff.

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