U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library


NCJ Number
Youth and Society Volume: 24 Issue: 4 Dated: (June 1993) Pages: 419-442
M A Straus; D A Donnelly
Date Published
24 pages
This article presents information on the extent to which corporal punishment was used with a large and nationally representative sample of adolescents and provides exploratory data on certain aspects of the etiology of corporal punishment of adolescents.
Data were obtained from interviews with the nationally representative sample of 6,002 American couples who participated in the National Family Violence Resurvey (Straus and Gelles, 1986, 1990). For the purposes of this article, corporal punishment is defined as the "use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain but not injury, for purposes of correction or control of the child's behavior." Respondents with one or more minor children living at home were asked about their current use of corporal punishment on one of those children. A later part of the same interview asked whether the respondents themselves had been physically punished when they were adolescents. Despite the lengthy time between when the respondents were adolescents and when they were interviewed, almost half the adult recall sample (49.8 percent) reported having been corporally punished one or more times during a 12-month period in their adolescent years. The findings indicate that corporal punishment remains a normal and routine part of growing up for almost all American children. The authors argue that evidence shows that corporal punishment of adolescents is associated with an increased probability of violence and other crime (Kandel, 1991; Straus, 1991), depression (Straus, 1993), and alienation and lowered achievement (Straus and Gimpel, 1992). 7 figures, 5 notes, and 29 references