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N Z Med J. 2007 Dec 14;120(1267):U2866.

Punitive parenting practices of contemporary young parents.

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Canterbury Child Development Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.



To describe the punitive parenting practices of a cohort of young (<25 years) New Zealand parents and to examine the life course risk factors that placed these parents at increased risk of severe child physical punishment/abuse.


The data were gathered as part of the Christchurch Health and Development Study. At age 25, all respondents who had become a parent were interviewed about their parenting practices and family circumstances, including an assessment of child physical punishment/abuse using the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale. The present analysis was confined to those young parents (n=155) who were living full-time with their children at the time of assessment.


Amongst this high-risk group of young parents, 77% reported having physically punished a child and almost 12% reported having severely physically assaulted a child in the past year. Although higher rates of child physical punishment were reported for parents of older children, a substantial proportion of parents reported having physically disciplined an infant (37%) or preschooler (84%) in their care. Risks of severe physical punishment/abuse were greatest amongst those young parents from lower socioeconomic status family backgrounds whose own parents were controlling, restrictive, and over-protective, and who (as young adult parents) were responsible for the care of larger numbers of children under conditions of socioeconomic and family functioning stress.


The use of physical punishment and more severe forms of physical assault/abuse are relatively common amongst contemporary young parents. Implications of study findings for social policy aimed at reducing levels of family violence in New Zealand are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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