Development and Psychopathology



Use of harsh physical discipline and developmental outcomes in adolescence


HEATHER L.  BENDER  a1 c1 , JOSEPH P.  ALLEN  a1 , KATHLEEN BOYKIN  McELHANEY  a2 , JILL  ANTONISHAK  a1 , CYNTHIA M.  MOORE  a3 , HEATHER O'BEIRNE  KELLY  a4 and STEVEN M.  DAVIS  a5
a1 University of Virginia
a2 Davidson College
a3 Harvard Medical School
a4 American Psychological Association
a5 North Central College

Article author query
bender hl   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
allen jp   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mcelhaney kb   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
antonishak j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
moore cm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
kelly ho   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
davis sm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

A history of exposure to harsh physical discipline has been linked to negative outcomes for children, ranging from conduct disorder to depression and low self-esteem. The present study extends this work into adolescence, and examines the relationship of lifetime histories of harsh discipline to adolescents' internalizing and externalizing symptoms and to their developing capacities for establishing autonomy and relatedness in family interactions. Adolescent and parent reports of harsh discipline, independently coded observations of conflictual interactions, and adolescent reports of symptoms were obtained for 141 adolescents at age 16. Both parents' use of harsh discipline was related to greater adolescent depression and externalizing behavior, even when these effects were examined over and above the effects of other parenting measures known to account for these symptoms. Adolescents exposed to harsh discipline from mothers were also less likely to appear warm and engaged during an interaction task with their mothers. It is suggested that a history of harsh discipline is associated not only with social and emotional functioning, but also with the developmental task of autonomy and relatedness. a


Correspondence:
c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Heather L. Bender, Commonwealth Counseling Associates, Hickory Park Office Complex, 5213 Hickory Park Drive, STE A, Glen Allen, VA 23059; E-mail: hbender@commonwealthcounseling.com


Footnotes

a This study and its write-up were supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH44934 and R01-MH58066).