Spanking in welfare families

Material Information

Spanking in welfare families
Haar, Andrea Jean
Publication Date:
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ix, 51 leaves : ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Corporal punishment ( lcsh )
Welfare recipients ( lcsh )
Poor families ( lcsh )
Corporal punishment ( fast )
Poor families ( fast )
Welfare recipients ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 48-51).
General Note:
Department of Sociology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Andrea Jean Haar.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
57587724 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L66 2004m H32 ( lcc )

Full Text
Andrea Jean Haar
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 2001
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fiilfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Andrea Jean Haar
has been approved
Richard H. Anderson

Haar, Andrea Jean (M.A., Sociology)
Spanking in Welfare Families
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
The use physical action by an adult to mediate (discipline) the behavior of a child
has been and continues to be a common occurrence. Earlier research has shown
that over 90% of children are spanked by their parents. Most recent research, on the
other hand, shows that this number has dropped to 61%. Still, according to several
scholars and advocates, this percent is very high and alarming. Past research, even
sparse, has focused on parental characteristics, childrens characteristics, parenting
styles, and demographic variables including religion. Using data from The
Welfare, Children and Families (1999) study, in this project, mothers spanking
behavior is studied. A subsample is created to only include children 5 years old and
younger. The predictor variables included in the multiple regression analysis are
demographic variables and mothers attitudes toward children in general, mothers
attitudes toward spanking, and variables that indicate (quality) activities mothers
engage in with their children.

This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.

I dedicate this thesis to my husband Doug for all of his support during this crazy
time. I also want to thank my children Brian, Eric and Ashley for putting up
with their mom being a student. To Ashley and Nick, a special thanks for the
format help. Dad, I am so glad that you are able to know that I really could do
it. Mom, thanks for believing in me. Last, but certainly not least, I thank my
friend Karen. Karen, you have been my support for so many years, thanks for
pushing when I didnt want to be pushed and thanks for listening through the
tears. I could not have done this without all of you!

My sincere thanks and eternal gratitude go to my mentor, professor, friend and
boss, Candan Duran-Aydintug. Thanks also to Yili Xu for all his hard work and
Richard Anderson for his support. This work would never have been possible
without Rachel Watson, our Program Assistant, Thank You! The entire
sociology department, professors and students, have been inspirational and
supportive, I appreciate all of you. Finally my helpers Shawn, Trina, Tony,
Carlos, and Shokoufeh you were always there for me and I hope to return the
favor someday.

1. INTRODUCTION................................................1
2. LITERATURE REVIEW...........................................4
Parental Characteristics...............................7
Combination of Child and Parental Characteristics......8
Pro Vs. Con...........................................11
Parenting Styles in Research Not Focusing on Spanking.14
Child Behavior in Research Not Focusing on Spanking...16
Current Study.........................................19
3. METHODS....................................................21
Data Collection and Sampling..........................21
Study Sample and Its Characteristics..................22
Variables and Measurement.............................23

4. RESULTS............................................ 26
Interpretations of Table 4.2...................28
5. DISCUSSION AND LIMITATIONS......................... 28
A. Frequencies..................................35

4.1 Results of Logistic regression for Model 1...................26
4.2 Results of Logistic Regression for full Model................27

The use of physical action by an adult to mediate the behavior of a child
has been and continues to be a common occurrence. Since the initial research in
1957 (Sears, Maccoby, & Levin) it has been shown that over 90% of children are
spanked by their parents. This type of activity has not changed much in the
decades since the initial study (Straus & Donnelly 2001). Although recently
spanking has become a controversial issue in the press and among parents, most
current studies show that this trend continues (Straus & Stewart 1999; Day,
Peterson & McCracken 1998). The only current research that has been shown to
deviate from the entire group of other studies that show over 90% of children are
spanked is a study by Giles-Sims, Straus and Sugarman (1995) that found only
61% of children are spanked.
In this research, the terms spanking and corporal punishment will be used
interchangeably unless specifically designated. Although very few of the authors
of previous studies define the terms precisely, it seems that everyone is in
agreement about the meanings and associated actions of spanking and corporal
punishment. According to Wolraich, Aceves, Feldman, Hagan, Howard,
Richtsmeier, Tolchin and Tolmas (1998), Spanking refers to striking a child

with an open hand on the buttocks or extremities with the intension of modifying
behavior without causing physical injury (pg 725). In 1997, Straus, Sugarman
and Giles-Sims stated, corporal punishment is defined as the use of physical
force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, for
the purpose of correction or control of the childs behavior (761). Although
spanking is a type of corporal punishment, there are many other behaviors that
are also considered corporal punishment. Straus and Stewart (1999) considered
six types of corporal punishment: slaps on the hand or leg, spanking on the
buttocks, pinching, shaking, hitting on the buttocks with a belt or paddle, and
slapping in the face.
For this study, I am primarily concerned with spanking that is done as a
discipline technique. Much of the research on spanking considers the fixture
outcomes for children that are spanked and the concern that spanking could lead
to abuse. Although the basic ideas of these researchers are reviewed, I am
choosing not to consider these topics at this time.
Given the importance of the issue, in this study, two basic types of
questions will be addressed. First, the demographic factors affecting possible
spanking behavior will be considered. And second, a combination of attitude,
behavior and routine will be studied to determine their effect on the use of
spanking. Included in the second set of questions is mothers attitude primarily
including her satisfaction with her own ability to parent, mothers behavior

toward her child, and the families normal routine. These non-demographic
variables have not been studied in previous research.

Spanking is still accepted as a form of discipline even though many
researchers find a connection between physical discipline and more harmful
types of abuse (Straus 2001; Straus, & Donnelly 2001). They feel that the
negative effects of spanking far outweigh the possible benefits. On the other
hand, another group of researchers (Larzelerel996; 2000) contend that
spanking is an effective form of discipline and that without the use of spanking
children will run wild and have behavior that is out of control.
The majority of parents in the United States use corporal punishment as a
form of discipline (Sears, Maccoby & Levin 1957; Straus & Stewart 1999;
Straus & Donnely 2001). This is particularly prevalent when the children are
toddlers. In 1957 it was found that 99% of parents spanked their young
children (Sears, Maccoby and Levin 1957). More recent research shows
results that this percentage has not changed much over time. Ninety-four
percent of parents use corporal punishment with their 3 and 4 year olds (Straus
& Stewart 1999). It has also been shown that children under the age of seven
are more likely to be disciplined with spanking than are older children (Day,

Peterson & McCracken 1998). Although this trend decreases as children age,
spanking is still very prevalent. However, research conducted in 1995 by
Giles-Sims, Straus and Sugarman failed to elicit the same type of results. The
authors only found that 61% of young children were spanked. Even though
this is a large percentage, it is nowhere near the over 90% stated by others.
Four factors were seen as important contributors to this smaller percentage.
First there was a very short reporting period of one week. Second, without a
clear definition of spanking, mild taps to the buttocks may not have been
reported. Third, the mothers in this study were older and may be less prone to
spanking. And fourth, only mothers were considered with no data on other
It has also been found that mothers are more likely to spank their children
than are fathers (Day, Peterson, & McCracken 1998). Straus and Stewart
1999, found that although mothers do use corporal punishment more than
fathers the difference is small and that when compared to the amount of time
that children spend with each parent this may be a time issue rather than a
gender issue.
Previous research has shown that boys tend to be spanked more than girls
(Straus & Stewart 1999; Day, Peterson & McCracken 1998; Giles-Sims,
Straus & Sugarman 1995). There are several possible explanations for
spanking boys. Boys tend to be more prone to socially inappropriate behavior

such as misbehaving and acting out. They stretch the limits and push the
boundaries set by adults. Also, parents tend to use more physical punishment
with boys from infancy on into adolescence simply because it is more
acceptable to be more physical with males. It is expected that boys need to be
tough and aggressive and some parents may believe that spanking as a type of
discipline will help to foster these qualities (Day, Peterson & McCracken
It has been shown in much of the current research that African American
mothers are more prone to use spanking as a form of discipline (Erlanger
1974; Straus & Stewart 1999; Day, Peterson & McCracken 1998; Giles-Sims,
Straus & Sugarman 1995) than are white mothers, however the effect of race
is not universally accepted. Straus (1994) believed that if other factors like
socioeconomic status and age of the parent are controlled, black mothers are
no more likely to spank than mothers of any other race.
The financial status of the family is another area that has been associated
with potential use of spanking. Low socioeconomic status may be associated
with a higher stress level leading to higher frustration and more harsh
discipline (Dietz 2000). Straus and Stewart (1999) found that lower
socioeconomic status was related to the age of the mother and to the age of the
child. Younger mothers have less access to resources, and lower wages than
their older counterparts. These mothers also have younger children and

toddlers are spanked more than any other age group. It is difficult to
understand the influence of income and especially unemployment on mothers
because most of the unemployment research has been on fathers (Giles-Sims,
Straus & Sugarman 1995). Since many of the mothers who spank their
children may be single mothers, research on fathers only is not always
pertinent. According to Pinderhughes, et al (2000), there is a direct
relationship between socioeconomic status and discipline responses. There are
two different paths that lead to harsh discipline 1. the parents believe in the
value of spanking 2. they respond more harshly because their stress level is
high as is their emotional reactivity level. Both of these paths may have more
to do with parental characteristics than directly with the socioeconomic status
of the family.
Parental Characteristics
Most of the children, over 90%, in the US have been spanked in their
lifetime. It is interesting to consider how the parents have made the choice as
to whether or not to spank. According to Wendy Walsh (2002), parents get
their information about spanking from either formal or informal sources.
Formal sources are workshops, pediatricians, newspapers, magazines and
books. Much of the formal information cites the potential harmfulness of
spanking. Informal sources are relatives and friends. The research showed

that even though most parents were more inclined to utilize formal
information, they were still likely to spank their own children.
Religious affiliation and belief systems also have an impact on ones
choice of discipline techniques. Catholics are much less likely to spank their
children while those of the Protestant faith are far more likely to use physical
punishment (Giles-Sims, Straus & Sugarman 1995). Ellison and Sherkat
(1993) found a disproportionate use of corporal punishment by those of the
Protestant faith. These authors found that three components of the parents
belief system were related to discipline: 1. acceptance of Biblical literalism 2.
belief in human nature as sinful 3. belief that human sin demands punishment.
Based on these beliefs, physical punishment is a necessary tool for child
socialization. Although the use of corporal punishment is seen as required,
there are boundaries as to how the discipline should be used, as a form of
discipline and not in an abusive way.
Combination of Child and Parental Characteristics
Graziano, Hemblen, & Plante (1996) considered sub abusive violence
which they defined as the use of spanking, hitting, slapping, etc. Their
research looked only at middle-class families. The reasons that parents gave
for using sub abusive violence included non-compliance, disobedience, and
challenge of authority by their children. The authors also found that four

predictors were significant regarding parents: 1. parents stated commitment to
physical discipline 2. parents own experience with physical discipline 3.
authoritarian parenting styles 4. childrens tendency to externalize behavior.
The authors took into account the beliefs and actions of the parents and also
the actions of the children. The physical display of inappropriate behavior that
was easily observable was the type of behavior that received the most
Parents also considered the effectiveness of the potential punishment
(Holden, Miller & Harris 1999). If parents believed that the use of spanking
will increase the desired result or more importantly reduce the unwanted
behavior, they will be more likely to spank. Holden, Miller & Harris (1999)
also compared the differences between emotional and instrumental spankers.
Instrumental spankers thought about the consequence of their actions before
they spanked and used spanking only when they thought it would be most
effective. Emotional spankers were those that spanked their children out of
emotion, primarily anger, without much thought as to the consequences of
their spanking. The instrumental spankers were more concerned with the
outcome of their actions where the emotional spankers reacted out of
frustration or anger with little regard for the possible consequences of their

Baumrind (1994,1996) looked at a variety of family characteristics when
studying the maltreatment of childrea This study looked at the work done by
others and is not a study in itself. In the first section she looked at economic
stress and sub cultural context. Economic stress is most highly linked to
abusive behavior amongst the extremely poor. After controlling for SES,
African American mothers are no more likely to abuse their children.
However, they are more likely to use corporal punishment to ensure obedience
and respect. Baumrinds second section, circumstances affecting the
occurrence of child maltreatment, included; parental youth and experience,
marital discord and divorce, adoption, and the presence of a difficult child.
She showed that young parents are more likely to mistreat a child. However,
youth and inexperience can be mediated by a supportive group of friends and
relatives. The childs behavior is the reason most parents give for using harsh
discipline. Even though special needs children are abused at a higher rate than
other children, it is obvious that most parents of difficult children do not abuse
them the and the relatively small minority who do abuse get the attention.
Other variables including stress associated with SES and age seem to be the
primary reason for abuse. The third section is child-rearing dimensions
relevant to child maltreatment, in which the author compared responsiveness
(warmth, reciprocity, attachment) to demandingness (coerciveness,
confrontation, monitoring, supervision, consistent supervision, corporal

punishment). Parents who use high responsiveness with a high level of
demandingness, known as an authoritative style, have the most optimal
parenting style. On the other hand, the authoritarian parenting style is more
restrictive and is associated with social incompetence in children (Santrock
1999). The use of an authoritarian style, including spanking may be socially
damaging to the child.
Other studies that looked at discipline find somewhat different results.
Kelley, Power and Wimbush (1992) showed that low-income black mothers
use a variety of discipline techniques. They showed that young, uneducated
single mothers who are less involved in organized religion are more likely to
use a parent-oriented discipline approach. This approach puts more emphasis
on the needs of the parent to control their child than on the needs of the child.
Pro Vs. Con
Davis (1994) said that Spanking is a socially constructed reality; it means
what people say it means. He studied the advocates and critics of spanking
and how they get the information to make their claims. In Davis study,
magazines and newspapers were analyzed for their ideas and images of
spanking. The traditional defense of spanking is broken into five categories.
One, the sign of nonpermissiveness, argues that parents who do not control

their children will have deviant adolescents that act out and foil to respect
authority. Second, anticipatory socialization, argues that life and the real
world are difficult and spanking will help a child to toughen up in preparation
for real life. Third, Gods will, found little evidence for a biblically
sanctioned approach to discipline and that the term spare the rod and spoil
the child first appeared in a poem by Samuel Butler in 1664. Fourth, a
morally neutral childrearing tool, considers spanking to be one possible
technique for disciplining children. It is fester than most other types of
discipline and is used by many as a last resort. Finally, a psychic release, this
release allows the child who has been spanked to consider the incident to be
over and the parent to release their tension (Davis 1994).
Critics of spanking claim that spanking makes children untrustworthy;
they may lie to avoid being spanked (Straus 1994; 2001). Children may
change their behavior completely out of fear of retribution and may not learn
the moral or ethical lesson being presented. Many feel that spanking teaches
children that violence is an acceptable problem-solving tool (Straus 1994,
2001). Probably the strongest argument against spanking is its possible link to
physical abuse (Straus, Sugaman & Giles-Sims 1995).
Murray Straus is one of if not the leading opponent of corporal
punishment including spanking. Straus along with his colleagues has
produced numerous articles and books related to child abuse (1994,2001).

Most of their research looked at the negative affects corporal punishment has
on adolescent and adult behavior. In one study Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-
Sims found that the use of corporal punishment to reduce antisocial behavior
actually has the opposite effect of increasing the behavior. According to the
authors, two central findings from research on CP (corporal punishment): (a)
CP does not work any better at the time of the misbehavior, and it is less
effective in the long run and (b) CP has many harmful side effects such as
increasing the chances that the child will be physically violent to other
children and later to their wife or husband, or increasing the chances that the
child will later suffer from serious depression,(3)(Straus 2001).
On the other hand, numerous professionals believe that nonabusive
physical punishment is not detrimental and may even be beneficial to childrea
Robert Larzelere MD is known for his articles on the positive aspects of
spanking as well as the potential flaws in the research done by those that
oppose spanking. Larzelere (1996) showed that there were not many quality
studies focused on the negative affects of physical punishment. No studies
looked at problem behavior prior to physical punishment and therefore had no
frame of reference for the current study. In his 2000 article, Larzelere stated,
spanking as a back-up for milder disciplinary tactics in 2 to 6 year olds seems
to produce beneficial child outcomes, at least in reducing noncompliance and

fighting (218). With this statement* he made a definite distinction between
spanking as a nonabusive form of discipline and child abuse.
Parenting Styles in Research Not Focusing on Spanking
There are a variety of research articles that focus on different types and
styles of parenting. Although these do not look directly at spanking they are
important because they show the different ways that parents interact with their
children. In their 1995 research, Blum, Williams, Friman & Christopherson
looked at the effectiveness of verbal instruction and reasoning with toddlers.
They found that young children do no yet have the capacity to understand the
concepts and change their behavior accordingly. Communication skills are
just being learned at this age and even though children may use new words
correctly they may not yet have a real grasp on the meanings.
One area that is considered when looking at corporal punishment is the
use of structural strain theory. Dietz (2000) used this theory when he said that
structural stress which includes; financial stress, parenting a young child, and
lack of education, along with cultural norms including; African American
families and those that live in the south, are more likely to use corporal
punishment. Dietz then proposed that efforts be made to give these families
the resources to implement other forms of discipline.

Bluestone and Tamis-LeMonda (1999) also showed that when studying
African American mothers, parenting styles are related to maternal education
and socioeconomic status. They added that maternal depression is another
important determinant in the type of parenting style utilized. Bearman (1993)
stated that a primary factor in parenting styles is the intergenerational
transmission of parenting practices. Much of what parents learn about how to
parent they learned from their own parents and grandparents. He also stated
that spouses influence each others parenting behavior.
The parenting styles of different cultures were studied by Julian,
McKenry and McKelvey (1994). They found that parenting styles among
different cultures in the United States were more similar than different. On the
other hand, they did find that Hispanic parents and African American parents
placed a greater emphasis on self-control, obedience, and getting along with
others than the other two groups (36). They also found that Asian American
parents were generally more conservative and less willing to share personal
information and feelings that might cause embarrassment.
Conger, McCarty, Yang, Lahey & Kropp (1984) studied how a variety of
psychological factors and family demographics could affect maternal
behavior. The authors looked at three psychological functions; emotional
distress, authoritarian child rearing, and negative perceptions of children.
They also looked at three demographic variables; financial status, structural

circumstances, and historical circumstances. They found that demographic
conditions had a strong impact on maternal psychological functioning. In
1993, Conger published another similar study that found that depression has a
negative affect on parenting skills. This psychological distress may be
attributed to low income, negative life events and few educational resources.
Socialization theory can also be used to explain the way parents teach
their children to follow the rules. According to Marshall (1998),
Socialization is the process by which we learn to become members of society,
both by internalizing the norms and values of society, and also by learning to
perform our social roles (624). One way that parents socialize their children
is with the use of discipline, including spanking
Child Behavior in Research Not Focusing on Spanking
Attribution theory is used by several authors when considering the
behavior of children. Attribution theory predicts that the least amount of
aversive ness necessary for a disciplinary response to achieve compliance will
produce the most internalization (Lepper, 1993 & Larzelere, Sather,
Schneider, Larson & Pike 1998). Miller (1995) used attribution theory to
study childrens behavior. Although his research had nothing to do with
spanking, it is interesting to consider the role that parents perceive they have

in controlling or changing their childs behavior. Spontaneous attributions
where parents actually place a cause on an action done by their child has not
been researched and little or no knowledge exists about parents actions in the
moment. Another question is the way parents verbalize their opinions about
attribution to their child. The communication may not be clear and
understandable to a child and may create little or no response or even an
incorrect response. Parents use verbal and non-verbal communication to
explain to their child what behaviors are or are not acceptable. When the child
is small it may be difficult to comprehend and respond to these
Larzelere et. al 1998, studied two types of common misbehavior in
young children, fighting and disobedience. The authors found that the most
effective discipline was that where parents used punishment as a back up to
reasoning. This is most useful with young children and carries through to their
Many parents feel that the type of behavior a child is exhibiting will have
a direct impact on the type of discipline used. When a child is misbehaving
parents may feel more justified in using a harsh form of discipline (Rodriguez
& Sutherland, 1999). Wolraich et al (1998) found that support for spanking is
higher in response to a child who runs into the street than it is to punish for
hitting another child. This type of spanking may be related more to fear than

discipline. Belief in the effectiveness of spanking, particularly for dangerous
misbehavior, was associated with use of corporal punishment (Socolar &
Stein, 1995).
Larzelere, Amberson & Martin (1992) researched perceived discipline
problems in young children. They defined a discipline problem as, a childs
behavior is considered a discipline problem when you feel a need to take some
specific corrective action to discourage it (such as verbal correction, removing
the child from the situation, spanking, or sending the child to his or her room).
They divided types of toddler behavior problems into the following categories:
oppositional, immaturity, emotional instability, physical aggression, and
shyness. Although there is a lot of talk about the terrible twos, the authors
found that most problems continued until 48 months. Behavior that parents
did not discipline at 12 months became more of a concern as the child got
Regional differences in attitude toward corporal punishment were
considered by Flynn (1994). He found that although corporal punishment was
more accepted in the southern states, when socioeconomic status was
controlled, those in the northeast were just as likely to use physical
punishment. Durrant, Krasnor, and Broberg (2003) used The Attitudes

Toward Spanking/Slapping My Child Scale as part of their research about
maternal beliefs in Sweden and Canada. They found that the more a mother
believed that spanking was an effective method of discipline, the more
frequently she spanked.
Current Study
As the aim of this study was to investigate the predicting factors of
spanking behavior, I tested the following hypotheses:
1. Younger mothers will be more likely to spank than older mothers
(Giles-Sims & Sugarman 1995).
2. The older the child is (in the 0-5 age group), the more likely will
he/she be subject to spanking (Straus & Stewart 1999; Day,
Peterson & McCracken 1998).
3. Mothers will spank their sons more than they spank their
daughters (Straus & Stewart 1999; Day, Peterson & McCracken
1998; Giles-Sims, Straus & Sugarman 1995).
4. Black and Hispanic mothers will be more likely to spank their
children than white mothers (Erlanger 1974; Straus & Stewart
1999; Day, Peterson & McCracken 1998; Giles-Sims, Straus &
Sugarman 1995).

5. The more education a mother has the less likely she will engage
in spanking behavior (Kelley, Power & Wimbush 1992).
6. If the mother had worked in the past two years, she will be less
likely to engage in spanking behavior (Pinderhues 2000).
7. Mothers who believe in obedience in their children will be more
likely to spank.
8. Mothers who are satisfied with their own parenting will be less
likely to spank their children.
9. Mothers who have a positive reward with their children will be
less likely to spank.
10. In households where there are routine family behaviors
established, mothers will be less likely to spank.
Hypothesis 1-6 are grounded in past research. On the other hand, my own
conceptualization guided by socialization theory develop hypothesis 7-10.
Even though demographics have been analyzed, research on obedience,
satisfaction with parenting, positive mother-child rewarding, and family
routines have not been consider in relation to spanking.

Data Collection and Sampling
Data for this study came from The Welfare, Children and Families
(1999). The original longitudinal study was conducted on children and their
caregivers in low-income families that were living in low-income neighborhoods.
Data collection took place in three cities: Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio. To
obtain a sample, in each city the researchers used a multi-stage, stratified, area
probability sampling. Based on certain criteria implemented by the researchers,
first the eligible families were identified. In each eligible family, one eligible
child, age birth to 4 or 10 to 14, was chosen to participate. Along with this child,
a mother or other female primary caregiver was also chosen into the sample. In
households where there were more than one eligible child, one was selected
using equal probability sampling. The instrument used for data collection
consisted of two computer assisted personal interviews (CAPI). The first
interview is a 100-minute interview conducted with the primary caregiver of the
focal child. In the second one, there were standardized assessments of a child
and a 30-minute interview with the child only if the child was in the 10-14 year-

old age group. It has been noted that the inference population is children age
birth to 4 and 10 to 14, whose primary caregiver is a female who self-identified
herself as non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic African-American, or Hispanic of
any race, who live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal
poverty line, living in low-income neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago, or San
Antonio. There are 2,402 children and their caregivers in the original sample.
Study Sample and Its Characteristics
A subsample was created from the original sample. This subsample
contained only focal children aged between birth and 5 and whose primary
caretakers (and the Respondent in the adult portion of the survey) were their
natural mothers. There were 1009 respondents in this sample.
The mean age for respondents was 26.39 with 15 being the minimum and
47 the maximum values. The mean age for focal children was 2.11. Male focal
children (509) were slightly more than female ones (500). The mean value for
respondents highest grade completed was 10.98 with 26.5% of the respondents
being high-school graduates. There were 59 respondents who identified
themselves as non-Hispanic white, 422 respondents who identified themselves as
non-Hispanic Black, and 511 respondents who identified themselves as Hispanic-
any race. Seventeen respondents fell into the other category. Only 94
respondents were married at the time of the data collection, whereas 763 of the

respondents were not. Almost 32% (31.8) of the respondents identified
themselves as Protestants, Close to 45% (44.4) indicated that they were Catholic,
one respondent was Jewish, 1.1% of respondents were Muslim, 6.1% of
respondents were in the other category, and 15% of respondents fell into the
none category. One respondent did not know the answer and another one
refused to answer this question. More than 1/4* (278) of the respondents didnt
work in the past two years. On the other hand, 709 respondents worked in the
past two years
Variables and Measurement
The dependent variable SPANK, a dichotomous categorical variable, was
created from the original categorical variable PCB02076 (respondent spanks
child). The original variables response categories were 1. definitely true, 2. sort
of true, 3. sort of false, 4. definitely false. Categories 1 and 2 were combined to
indicate high or mediocre spanking behavior and categories 3 and 4 were
combined to indicate low or no spanking behavior. Therefore, SPANK had
response categories 1= yes and 0 = no. FCAGE, a continuous variable, indicated
focal childs age. RAGE was also a continuous variable that indicated the
respondents age. FCSEX indicated the focal childs gender where 1 meant male
and 0 meant female. EDUCR indicated the highest grade respondent completed.
The original race variable had 4 response categories: Non-Hispanic White, Non-

Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Other. Three dummy variables were created out
of this variable: WHITE, BLACK, AND HISPANIC. The variable WORKED
was a dichotomous variable where 0 indicted that the respondent did not work in
the past 2 years and 1 indicated that the respondent worked in the past two years.
Guided by a factor analysis, the variable OBEDIENT was created from 3
variables (PCA02074 respondent expects child to be quiet and respectful,
PCA02067 good spanking sometimes needed, PCA02077 respondent expects
focal childs unquestioned obedience). For all of these variables there were 4
response categories: 1. definitely true, 2. sort of true, 3. sort of false, 4. definitely
false. The resulting variable, OBEDIENT, had a minimum value of 3 and a
maximum value of 12, lower scores mean positive attitudes toward obedience.
The variable SATISFIED was a continuous variable that indicated parenting
satisfaction; higher scores meant higher satisfaction. PARREW was created
from 5 variables that measure mothers rewarding behavior toward her child
(PCB03841 respondent kissed, hugged child; PCB03842 respondent said
something warm to the child; PCB03843 respondent slapped the child;
PCB03844 respondent said something nasty to the child; PCB03845 respondent
provided toys for the child). The original response categories for these variables-,
were yes =1, no =2. Finally, the variable ROUTINE was created from 4
variables (PCS01737 respondent and focal child have homework rituals,
PCS01738 focal child has the same bedtime, PCS01739 family has dinner

together, PCS01740 family has breakfast together). The response categories for
these variables were 1. almost never, 2. sometimes, 3. usually, and 4. always.
The resulting ROUTINE variable had a minimum value of 4 and a maximum
value of 16.

In the first logistic regression model, the effects of several demographic
variables on the likelihood of respondents spanking behavior were tested. More
specifically, the independent variables were age of the respondent, age of the
focal child, gender of the focal child, respondents education, respondents race,
and whether or not respondent worked in the last two years. The dependent
variable was the dichotomous variable, SPANK.
Table 4.1 Results of logistic regression for Model 1
Variable B Significance Level
RAGE -.040 .004
FCAGE .384 .000
FCSEX -.376 .017
EDUCR .048 .214
BEING BLACK 2.448 .002
BEING WHITE 1.227 .151
WORKED .086 .622
CONSTANT -1.576 .110

In the second step, the variables OBEDIENT, SATISFIED, PARBEH,
and ROUTINE were added to the equation. The result of the analysis, of the full
model, are displayed in Table 4.2
Table 4.2 Results of Logistic Regression for the full model
Variables B Significance Level
RAGE -.032 .022
FCAGE .156 .012
FACSEX -.284 .073
EDUCR .012 .462
BEING BLACK 1.881 .018
BEING WHITE 1.359 .110
WORKED .123 .489
OBEDIENT -.573 .000
SATISFIED -5.85 .000
PARREW -.118 .182
ROUTINE -.042 .076
CONSTANT 6.690 .000

Interpretations of Table 4.2
The variable RAGE was significant (.-032*) meaning that the younger a
mother was the more likely she was to spank. The variable FCAGE was
significant (.156*) meaning that the older children in the study were more likely
to be spanked. The variable FACSEX was not significant at the .05 level, it was
significant at the 1 level meaning that the sex of the child was not a factor in this
study. The variable EDUCR was not significant meaning that respondents
education did not affect spanking. The variable Black was significant (1.881*)
meaning that black mothers were more likely to spank their children. The
variable Hispanic was significant (1.472*) meaning that Hispanic mothers were
more likely to spank their children. The variable White was not significant
meaning that white mothers were not as likely to spank their children. The
variable WORKED was not significant meaning that whether or not mother
worked in the last 2 years did not affect her spanking behavior. The variable
OBEDIENT was significant (.-573**) meaning that attitudes toward obedience
suggested a more likelihood to spank. The variable SATISFIED was significant
(-5.85**) meaning that mothers who reported that they were less satisfied with
their parenting ability were more likely to spank. The variable P ARREW was
not significant meaning that rewarding behavior did not effect spanking. The
variable ROUTINE was not significant at the .05 level, however this variable

was significant at the .1 level which means that the family routine did not have
an effect on spanking of the child in this study.

In many areas the findings from this study were in agreement with the
majority of the literature available on the topic of spanking. It was found that
younger mothers are more likely to spank than older mothers which was also
stated by Giles-Sims & Sugarman (1995). There are many possible reasons that
younger mothers spank more than older mothers including some of the other
variables that we consider later such as education and work. Other possible
explanations might include stress level and lack of parenting knowledge.
Younger mothers may also have less of a support system to turn to when
searching for discipline techniques. This study only looked at young children
ages 0-5 years old; I found that the older children in our group were spanked
more than the younger children. This seems in my understanding to be a logical
finding; infants are not spanked as much as older children, especially for
discipline purposes. Older children learn to try the limits and push the
boundaries that their mothers set and therefore are spanked more often. Most of
the research (Straus & Stewart 1999; Day, Peterson & McCracken 1998) showed
that children from 4-7 years of age were spanked more, which agrees with my
findings. Another area that was in agreement with the research, at the 10 level,

was that boys are spanked more frequently than girls (Straus & Stewart 1999;
Day, Peterson & McCracken 1998, Giles-Sims, Straus & Sugarman 1995). Boys
tend to be more aggressive in their type of play, which may catch the attention of
their mothers. Girls engage in more quiet play and may avoid getting into
trouble by simply being less obvious. It would be interesting to see if the fact
that mothers and daughters being the same gender and possibly enjoying similar
types of activities has any affect on spanking behavior. Another area that was in
agreement was that black mothers are more likely to spank than white mothers
(Erlanger 1974; Straus & Stewart 1999; Day, Peterson & McCracken 1998;
Giles-Sims, Straus & Sugarman 1995). There are many possible explanations for
this result, black mothers may be using discipline to prepare their children for the
harsh realities of life or may have a cultural bias for doing so. In addition, Black
and Hispanic mothers were over represented in this sample due to the harsh
economic conditions, which might have an impact on the results. My research
also found that Hispanic mothers are more likely to spank which is not
adequately covered in the previous literature. It might be important to consider
the cultural background of all of the families, particularly those classified as
Hispanic, to determine the importance of regional differences. I did not find that
the amount of education a mother had achieved had an impact on her spanking
behavior. However, the previous research showed that education was a predictor
(Kelley, Power & Wimbush 1992). This might also be due to the low

socioeconomic status of these families and the low variation in education level. I
also found no relationship between whether the mother had worked in the past
two years or not and her use of spanking (Pinderhues 2000). The stress
associated with not working and consequently little or no income might be more
of a factor in those of a higher financial status that had more to lose.
The areas that I looked at that were not grounded in past research
included some interesting and significant results. Mothers that believe that
obedience is an important trait for their child are more likely to use spanking as a
discipline technique. These mothers value a child that is quiet and respectful and
one that follows the rules. This may also explain why boys were spanked more.
I also found that mothers who are satisfied with their own ability to parent are
less likely to spank. Satisfaction with parenting does not tell us what type of
parent these mothers are. It might be interesting to analyze what caused a mother
to be satisfied with her ability to parent. Did this come from socially or
culturally accepted roles or from the media or even from family and friends? I
did not find a relationship between mothers rewarding behavior toward their
children and their use of spanking. It appeared that the other types of actions
between a mother and her child did not have an impact on spanking. It might be
easier to predict spanking behavior if there was an association between spanking
and these other actions. Nor, was there a strong relationship between family
routines and spanking. The structure of a daily routine did not have an effect on

mothers use of spanking, which may shows that it is not the normal activity but
the unusual that leads to discipline, including spanking.
The major limitation of this study is that it was limited by the data set
used. The problems associated with using a secondary data set which was
conducted by others are evident in this research. A major question is the
operationalization of the term spanking. I am are unaware of the respondents
definition of the term and whether or not all were in agreement as to what
behavior constitutes spanking. Also as is common in secondary data analysis, I
combined variables that I believe to be similar based on the question asked.
Therefore, some validity issues that could have affected the results may be
Generalizability of the results is another issue worth noting. As the
original researchers claim in the description of their data collection, these
findings are generalizable to only women who five in Boston, Chicago, and San
Antonio, whose income is 200% below the poverty line, and who are mainly
black and Hispanic.
This most important reason for using this data set was it only looked at
welfare mothers. Therefore the income variable did not play a part in the results
as all respondents were poor. Another plus for this data set is that it was done
very recently (1999) and the data are current.

The types of future research that would be interesting to consider would
be welfare mothers in non-urban areas. The lifestyles and ideologies of those
living in smaller communities might have different spanking behavior. I would
like to learn more about the concept of satisfaction with parenting techniques.
Does it matter what type of parenting behavior one uses or is the idea that what is
being done is correct enough of a reason? Although the family routines were not
found to be significant in this study, the results were close enough to warrant
further insight into the daily activities of welfare families.

Appendix A
N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean 26.39
Std. Error of Mean .188
Median 25.28(a)
Mode 23
Std. Deviation 5.967
Variance 35.602
Skewness .736
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis .021
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 32
Minimum 15
Maximum 47
Sum 26629
a Calculated from grouped data.

Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid 15 3 .3 .3 .3
16 4 .4 .4 .7
17 13 1.3 1.3 2.0
18 28 2.8 2.8 4.8
19 49 4.9 4.9 9.6
20 55 5.5 5.5 15.1
21 70 6.9 6.9 22.0
22 71 7.0 7.0 29.0
23 84 8.3 8.3 37.4
24 72 7.1 7.1 44.5
25 74 7.3 7.3 51.8
26 59 5.8 5.8 57.7
27 61 6.0 6.0 63.7
28 62 6.1 6.1 69.9
29 39 3.9 3.9 73.7
30 44 4.4 4.4 78.1
31 26 2.6 2.6 80.7
32 19 1.9 1.9 82.6
33 26 2.6 2.6 85.1
34 29 2.9 2.9 88.0
35 25 2.5 2.5 90.5
36 15 1.5 1.5 92.0
37 22 2.2 2.2 94.2
38 14 1.4 1.4 95.5
39 19 1.9 1.9 97.4
40 6 .6 .6 98.0
41 6 .6 .6 98.6
42 5 .5 .5 99.1
43 2 .2 .2 99.3
44 5 .5 .5 99.8
45 1 .1 .1 99.9
47 1 .1 .1 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean 1.50
Std. Error of Mean .016
Median 1.50(a)
Mode 1
Std. Deviation .500
Variance .250
Skewness .018
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis -2.004
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 1
Minimum 1
Maximum 2
Sum 1509
a Calculated from grouped data.
Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid Male 509 50.4 50.4 50.4
Female 500 49.6 49.6 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 766
Missing 243
Mean 10.98
Std. Error of Mean .081
Median 11.27(a)
Mode 12
Std. Deviation 2.230
Variance 4.975
Skewness -.769
Std. Error of Skewness .088
Kurtosis 1.008
Std. Error of Kurtosis .176
Range 16
Minimum 1
Maximum 17
Sum 8412
a Calculated from grouped data.
Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid 1st Grade 2 .2 .3 .3
2nd Grade 1 .1 .1 .4
4th Grade 4 .4 .5 .9
5th Grade 2 .2 .3 1.2
6th Grade 24 2.4 3.1 4.3
7th Grade 17 1.7 2.2 6.5
8th Grade 53 5.3 6.9 13.4
9th Grade 82 8.1 10.7 24.2
10th Grade 83 8.2 10.8 35.0
11th Grade 137 13.6 17.9 52.9
12th Grade 203 20.1 26.5 79.4
Vocational/te chnical 31 3.1 4.0 83.4
Any year of college Ungraded placement Total 126 1 766 12.5 .1 75.9 16.4 .1 100.0 99.9 100.0

1 Missing System 1 243 24.1 I
[Total 1 1009 100.0 I

N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean .4182
Std. Error of Mean .01554
Median .4182(a)
Mode .00
Std. Deviation .49351
Variance .24356
Skewness .332
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis -1.894
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 1.00
Minimum .00
Maximum 1.00
Sum 422.00
a Calculated from grouped data.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid .00 587 58.2 58.2 58.2
1.00 422 41.8 41.8 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean .5064
Std. Error of Mean .01575
Median .5064(a)
Mode 1.00
Std. Deviation .50021
Variance .25021
Skewness -.026
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis -2.003
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 1.00
Minimum .00
Maximum 1.00
Sum 511.00
a Calculated from grouped data.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid .00 498 49.4 49.4 49.4
1.00 511 50.6 50.6 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean .0585
Std. Error of Mean .00739
Median .0585(a)
Mode .00
Std. Deviation .23475
Variance .05511
Skewness 3.769
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis 12.230
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 1.00
Minimum .00
Maximum 1.00
Sum 59.00
a Calculated from grouped data.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid .00 950 94.2 94.2 94.2
1.00 59 5.8 5.8 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 987
Missing 22
Mean .72
Std. Error of Mean .014
Median .72(a)
Mode 1
Std. Deviation .450
Variance .203
Skewness -.972
Std. Error of Skewness .078
Kurtosis -1.057
Std. Error of Kurtosis .156
Range 1
Minimum 0
Maximum 1
Sum 709
a Calculated from grouped data.
Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid R DIDNT WORK PAST 2 YRS 278 27.6 28.2 28.2
R WORKED PAST 2 YRS 709 70.3 71.8 100.0
Total 987 97.8 100.0
Missing System 22 2.2
Total 1009 100.0

N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean 6.4549
Std. Error of Mean .07583
Median 6.1711(a
Mode 6.00
Std. Deviation 2.40869
Variance 5.80178
Skewness .593
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis -.251
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 9.00
Minimum 3.00
Maximum 12.00
Sum 6513.00
a Calculated from grouped data.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid 3.00 107 10.6 10.6 10.6
4.00 125 12.4 12.4 23.0
5.00 150 14.9 14.9 37.9
6.00 187 18.5 18.5 56.4
7.00 152 15.1 15.1 71.5
8.00 87 8.6 8.6 80.1
9.00 81 8.0 8.0 88.1
10.00 47 4.7 4.7 92.8
11.00 15 1.5 1.5 94.3
12.00 58 5.7 5.7 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean Std. Error of Mean Median 4.3201 .03081 4.4952(a ) 5.00
Std. Deviation .97874
Variance .95794
Skewness -1.515
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis 1.784
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 5.00
Minimum .00
Maximum 5.00
Sum 4359.00
a Calculated from grouped data.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid .00 2 .2 .2 .2
1.00 12 1.2 1.2 1.4
2.00 64 6.3 6.3 7.7
3.00 89 8.8 8.8 16.6
4.00 258 25.6 25.6 42.1
5.00 584 57.9 57.9 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 1009
Missing 0
Mean 11.8751
Std. Error of Mean .08391
Median 12.0356( a)
Mode 14.00
Std. Deviation 2.66523
Variance 7.10344
Skewness -.351
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis -.495
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 12.00
Minimum 4.00
Maximum 16.00
Sum 11982.0 0
a Calculated from grouped data.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid 4.00 2 .2 .2 .2
5.00 11 1.1 1.1 1.3
6.00 14 1.4 1.4 2.7
7.00 34 3.4 3.4 6.0
8.00 61 6.0 6.0 12.1
9.00 73 7.2 7.2 19.3
10.00 112 11.1 11.1 30.4
11.00 124 12.3 12.3 42.7
12.00 138 13.7 13.7 56.4
13.00 115 11.4 11.4 67.8
14.00 158 15.7 15.7 83.4
15.00 67 6.6 6.6 90.1
16.00 100 9.9 9.9 100.0
Total 1009 100.0 100.0

N Valid 1006
Missing 3
Mean .5636
Std. Error of Mean .01564
Median .5636(a)
Mode 1.00
Std. Deviation .49618
Variance .24620
Skewness -.257
Std. Error of Skewness .077
Kurtosis -1.938
Std. Error of Kurtosis .154
Range 1.00
Minimum .00
Maximum 1.00
Sum 567.00
a Calculated from grouped data.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid .00 439 43.5 43.6 43.6
1.00 567 56.2 56.4 100.0
Total 1006 99.7 100.0
Missing System 3 .3
Total 1009 100.0

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