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J Fam Psychol. 2014 Feb;28(1):22-31. doi: 10.1037/a0035272. Epub 2013 Dec 23.

Parental endorsement of spanking and children's internalizing and externalizing problems in African American and Hispanic families.

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Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology.
Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, Princeton University.


This study assessed prospective, bidirectional associations between maternal endorsement of spanking and children's internalizing and externalizing behavior problems in low-income urban African American and Hispanic (N = 592) families drawn from the Three City Study. Children in sample families were followed from early childhood through middle childhood with 3 sets of interviews and assessments at ages 3, 4, and 9 years. Cross-lagged path analyses tested longitudinal bidirectional associations between parental endorsement of spanking and children's internalizing and externalizing problems, with multigroup comparisons employed to test group differences between race/ethnic groups. African American and Hispanic mothers showed similar endorsements of spanking. Results suggest that associations between spanking endorsement and child functioning were due primarily to parenting effects, with spanking predicting changes in children's behaviors, rather than child evocative effects, with limited evidence of child behaviors predicting changes in parental spanking. Maternal spanking endorsement predicted short-term decreases in children's internalizing problems in early childhood, but over the longer term spanking was associated with increased internalizing and externalizing problems for both African American and Hispanic children in middle childhood among economically disadvantaged families.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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