Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 135–148 | Cite as

What Is the Link Between Corporal Punishment and Child Physical Abuse?

  • Sabrina FréchetteEmail author
  • Michael Zoratti
  • Elisa Romano
Original Article


This study aimed to contribute to the literature on corporal punishment by examining the link between spanking and child physical abuse. First, we examined the extent to which individuals who experienced spanking in childhood were at greater risk of also experiencing physical abuse by their parents. Second, we examined various parenting and family factors that could distinguish between spanking that occurred within and without a physically abusive context. A sample of 370 university students completed a questionnaire on disciplinary experiences at age 10. Results suggested that individuals who indicated having experienced spanking during childhood were at greater risk of also having experienced physical abuse. Among individuals who indicated having experienced spanking, greater spanking frequency, perceptions of impulsiveness in parental discipline, and reports of physical violence between parents significantly increased the risk of physical abuse. This research contributes to the growing evidence on the risks associated with child corporal punishment.


Discipline Parenting Spanking Family violence Maltreatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabrina Fréchette
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael Zoratti
    • 2
  • Elisa Romano
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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