Harsh Policies & Childhood Punishment

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Registered: 10-27-2004
Harsh Policies & Childhood Punishment
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Sun, 10-31-2004 - 1:37pm
This is pasted from an article written by SOMEONE else-- it explains the research finding that people who were harshly punished as children, who have never questioned the validity of these punishments as adults, tend to hold harsher political views.

2004: Linking childhood punishment with political beliefs in adulthood:

The 2004-MAY-13 issue of Newsweek carried an article by Michael Milburn, interviewed by Brian Braiker. Milburn is a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts and a co-author of the book: "The Politics of Denial." 11 He "has extensively explored what determines political attitudes, the role of emotion in public opinion and the effects of the mass media on political attitudes and social behavior." Discussing the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq involving the physical and sexual mistreatment of inmates by American soldiers, he commented:

"We found that, particularly for males who had never had any psychotherapy, when they reported a high level of childhood punishment, they were significantly more likely to endorse a range of punitive public policies like support for the death penalty, opposition to abortion, support for the use of military force....Well, the extent to which emotion connected to childhood punishment was driving their political attitudes, when they had an opportunity to sort of reflect on that and short-term catharsis experience, that sort of energy disappears....What we have found, really broadly, is the higher level of punitiveness among political conservatives is really strongly associated with experiences, generally, of harsh punishment from childhood. It’s not just going to be that they were spanked; there’s a whole family climate, and punishment is just going to be one of those indicators of that....In our research we also found that when we gave people the statement 'the amount of physical and sexual abuse in this country is greatly exaggerated by the mass media,' conservatives were significantly more likely to agree with that."



References:

1. Sean Fine, "Study links spanking to future alcohol abuse," The Globe and Mail, Toronto, 1999-OCT-5, Pages A1 & A13

2. Jane Gadd, "Spanked children suffer intellectually," The Globe and Mail,Toronto ON, 1998-JUL-30

3. Harriet McMillan, et al., "Slapping and spanking in childhood and its association with lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a general population sample," Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1999-OCT-5, at: http://www.cma.ca/cmaj/vol-161/issue-7/0805.htm

4. "Punished for life: Canadian study links spanking to addiction and psychiatric disorders," Reuters, 1995-OCT-5. Online at: http://nospank.org/canada2.htm

5. M.A. Straus, Corporal punishment of children and adult depression and suicidal ideation," Chapter 5 of: "Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families and its effects on children," New Brunswick, (2000), Page 60 to 77. Online at: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/CP3.pdf

6. P. Greven, "Spare the child: The religious roots of physical punishment and the psychological impact of physical abuse," Knopf, (1991)

7. Irvin Wolkoff, "Spanked child can become self-loathing adult," The Toronto Star, 1999-NOV-26, Page F4.

8. E. Larzelere, "A review of the outcomes of parental use of nonabusive or customary physical punishment," Pediatrics 98:824-831

9. Patricia McBroom, "UC Berkeley study finds no lasting harm among adolescents from moderate spanking earlier in childhood," at: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/

10. Maggie Fox, "Why some boys go bad: Gene study may show why abused turn violent," Reuters News Agency, 2002-AUG-1.

11. Michael A. Milburn & Sheree D. Conrad, "The Politics of Denial," MIT Press, (1996). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

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Avatar for cl_mom2noodles
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Sun, 11-14-2004 - 9:25pm


I thought this was an interesting post and I'm curious if any of you have thoughts on a possible correlation between childhood experiences and adult attitudes.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-09-1999
Sun, 11-14-2004 - 10:59pm

What stood out to me was this:


<<"We found that, particularly for males who had never had any psychotherapy, when they reported a high level of childhood punishment, they were significantly more likely to endorse a range of punitive public policies like support for the death penalty, opposition to abortion, support for the use of military force...>>


My thought is that children that were disciplined as children were taught respect and integrity among other things. Not that other kids weren't - just that these kids had it as a paramount and integral part of their lives.


That's just my initial reaction.



 

 

Avatar for cl_mom2noodles
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Sun, 11-14-2004 - 11:48pm

I would assert that there

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 11-15-2004 - 8:51am

I guess my question would have to be "what's the point?".


These folks are not in need of therapy.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-19-2004
Mon, 11-15-2004 - 11:54am
The opportune word here is Research, IMO! Honestly, I hate those studies. I do not like studies that use Research, Polls, Statistics to base anything related to behavior. My DH grew up in a VERY DYSFUNCTIONAL home. To this day, his sister has issues and lives off as much of the system she can, his brother has disconnected entirely from the family and DH is in a catch 22. He is the only one who finished college, he is the mightiest and most successful (depending on how you define the word, mind you!)in terms that I can appreciate more than his own blood. What statistic or poll does this put him into?! NONE. Thank Goodness!
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-09-1999
Mon, 11-15-2004 - 1:16pm

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 11-15-2004 - 1:46pm

I find that very interesting. It reminds me of a study in one of my grad classes that I haven't forgotten. I think the researcher's name was Critteron.


She studied the characteristics of abusive, neglectful and "normal" parents. She found that a majority of the abusive parents had a certain way of seeing power. They felt that their children's behavior was purposely done to annoy them and bother them. And they always felt like they had to be "on top" to have

Susan.....Mom to Ben (3-16-00)
and Emelia (3-17-03)

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2004
Wed, 11-17-2004 - 1:32am
Studies are not able to speak for 100% of the people. There are always exceptions to every "rule", especially when studying human behavior. Research is publishable and newsworthy when it is able to predict behavior/attitudes etc. for a statistically "significant" percentage of people... this figure ranges depending upon the strength of the correlation (or causation) and the sample size. If your husband doesn't fit the "mold", more power to him.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2004
Wed, 11-17-2004 - 2:03am

I posted this a few weeks ago, before the election, for the reason that mom2noodles already stated: The relationship between childhood experiences and adult attitudes is interesting to me.

Lots of adults who are corporally punished turn out to be very fine citizens, no question about it. Nonetheless, corporal punishment is associated with some very negative outcomes in a significant number of kids/adults-- not just in one or two studies, but repeatedly research has found that corporal punishment is associated with lower self-esteem, depression, under-achievement.

Also, research has shown repeatedly that corporal punishment causes antisocial behavior in kids-- lying, aggression, lack of remorse, stealing and in almost all instances, aggression. That doesn't mean that every person that was spanked has these problems-- it just means that a "statistically significant" number of kids who are spanked will develop these problems. http://www.unh.edu/frl/cp24.htm http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12734459 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12081081

There's a genetic weakness in boys that has been shown to be one of the variables at play. In 1997, an international, longitudinal study focusing on the relationship between childhood abuse in boys and Anti-social and criminal activity in adults found that one third of all boys have a weakened gene that is activated by physical abuse, pre-disposing them to aggression, antisocial behavior, violent crimes and criminality. The researchers found that 85% of the boys who had a weakened version of the gene and a history of childhood abuse, turned to criminal or antisocial behavior as adults. http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2002/08/01/maoa020801 .

This is the real dilemma-- research shows that the more parents spank their kids, the more their kids act out. Which explains why many adults feel that they "deserved" the punishments they received-- because they really were misbehaving. If parents realized that corporal punishment actually creates a vicious cycle, many wouldn't do it. One of the reasons parents don't see the connection is that corporal punishment is followed by "initial compliance", and later, anti-social behavior. So, it looks like it's working to some parents.

Some would argue, well, how do you know that the "antisocial behavior" is caused by the spanking-- maybe these are just bratty kids to begin with that need more correction than most? Certainly there are genetic variables that factor in here-- some kids are more highly spirited than others. But, the research shows that when corporal punishment is stopped, the antisocial behavior goes away... so it's clear that the relationship between corporal punishment and antisocial behavior is causational, not just correlational.

My husband, also a psychologist, treats a lot of children in his practice who are referred to him because the parents were told by the kids' schools that their acting out is out of hand and they need treatment. He teaches the parents a behavioral-mod tool called "one, two, three Magic" to help parents structure with "wild kids" and get them under control. Consistently, the kids he treats who were spanked, prior to treatment, stop acting out when their parents substitute firm behavioral strategies for the corporal punishment.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2004
Wed, 11-17-2004 - 2:12am
gandycat, I remember that study... the name of that style of parenting is called "authoritarian" (versus "authoritative" or "permissive" or "neglectful".) That study left a big impression on me too when I was in school.

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