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Corporal Punishment of Children and Crime: A Theoretical Model and Some Empirical Data

NCJ Number
M A Straus
Date Published
25 pages
This theoretical model focuses primarily on the hypothesis that corporal punishment by parents or teachers tends to increase the probability of more severe violence such as wife-beating, child abuse, and crime outside the family such as robbery, assault, and homicide.

These findings suggest that although corporal punishment may produce short term results; over the longer run it probably also creates or exacerbates deviance. Nonetheless, this is extremely weak evidence because causal direction is not clear. The causal direction problem can be illustrated at the macro level and at the individual level. Both the overall theoretical model and the micro- process model can only be adequately investigated with panel and time series data. Although this theoretical model was stimulated by cultural spillover theory, some of the hypothesized relationships have also been addressed by other theories, such as personality mediated theories, social learning and differential association theory, control theory, and labeling theory. The process of transforming this model into meaningful research can be aided if criminologists and family violence researchers collaborate more than in the past to seek a full accounting of the links between corporal punishment and crime outside the family. Appendix, 10 footnotes, 58 references, and 14 figures