Physical aggression in the family

Prevalence rates, links to non family violence, and implications for primary prevention of societal violence
  • Murray A. Straus


It is within the family that most people first experience being the victim of physical aggression in the form of being “spanked,” “smacked,” or slapped by a parent. Moreover, because parents who hit children almost always do so for the morally correct purpose of stopping misbehavior, corporal punishment teaches that physical aggression is a morally correct way to stop what is perceived as someone else’s misbehavior. In addition, millions of children throughout the world grow in household in which they witness parents physically and psychologically attacking each other. This experience, like the experience of being hit by parents, is associated with an increased probability of subsequent physical violence both within and outside the family. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize the evidence on which each of the above statements is based and to present data on trends in physical aggression within the family and the implications for societal violence.


Intimate Partner Violence Child Abuse Antisocial Behavior Physical Aggression Physical Violence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Murray A. Straus
    • 1
  1. 1.Family Research LaboratoryUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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