University Research Explores Racial Differences in Corporal Punishment

New research from scholars at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Tulane University, and the University of Chicago finds stress and alcohol and drug abuse are major contributing factors in whether fathers spank their children. The research, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, used survey data on more than 2,900 fathers of 3-year-old children.

The results show that 61 percent of fathers do not spank their children. Nearly a quarter of the fathers said they were moderate users of corporal punishment and 16 percent said they spank their children frequently. Fathers who were under a great deal of stress or who abused drugs or alcohol were more likely to spank their children. And younger fathers were more likely to hit their children than older fathers.

The study found that African-American fathers were more likely than their white counterparts to engage in moderate use of corporal punishment but there were no racial differences in the rates of fathers who frequently spank their children.