Physical punishment by mothers and fathers in British homes

G Nobes, M Smith, P Upton, A Heverin

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42 Citations (Scopus)


The relative extent to which mothers and fathers administer physical punishment sheds light on family relationships, parental roles and, perhaps, the identity of potential abusers. In this study, British mothers (n = 362) and fathers (n = 103) of randomly selected children from 366 two-parent families were interviewed. According to self-reports, the proportions of mothers and fathers who had used physical punishments were similar, as were the frequencies with which they used them. About 50% more mothers than fathers smacked or hit their children weekly or more often, whereas fathers were more prone to restrain or push their children. A (nonsignificantly) higher proportion of fathers than mothers had used severe punishments. Fathers who took an equal share in caretaking used no more frequent or severe physical punishments than did mothers. These findings are compared with those of previous studies and discussed in terms of mothers' and fathers' caretaking and disciplinarian roles in different families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-902
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


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