The Association Between Corporal Punishment and Problem Behaviors Among Chinese Adolescents: The Indirect Role of Self-Control and School Engagement

  • Gaoxi Hu
  • Zhenzhou Bao
  • Ting Nie
  • Yaozhong LiuEmail author
  • Jianjun ZhuEmail author


There is a large gap in knowledge about the mechanism by which corporal punishment is associated with problem behaviors. The current study addressed this by testing a model involving self-control and school engagement as mediators in a sample of Chinese adolescents. A sample of 505 adolescents completed anonymous questionnaires regarding corporal punishment, self-control, school engagement, and problem behaviors. Structural equation models showed that self-control mediated the association between corporal punishment and school engagement; self-control exerted an indirect effect on problem behaviors via school engagement; furthermore, corporal punishment might impact problem behaviors by the way of self-control and school engagement in sequence, implying the crucial roles of self-control and school engagement as particularly valuable intervention points. The present study contributes to our understanding of key mechanisms underlying the association between corporal punishment and adolescent problem behavior and can be used to guide future intervention development.


Corporal punishment Self-control School engagement Problem behaviors 



This research was funded by the Foundation of Discipline Construction, Team Innovation and Feature Major Construction in Tianhe College of Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University (Xjt201703, THXY201612, 2017XJJG01) and supported by the Science and Technology Project of Department of Education of Jiangxi Province (GJJ170841). The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of the granting agencies. We thank the adolescents who participated in our study and the schools that assisted our study in various ways.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

Permission for the study was obtained from the Research Ethics Committee of the corresponding author’s institution. Additionally, participation in the study was entirely voluntary and oral consent was obtained from participants of the selected schools. Participants were told that they could withdraw from the assessment at any time. All data were handled with strict confidentiality.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained by all individual participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tianhe College of Guangdong Polytechnic Normal UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.School of BusinessMacau University of Science and TechnologyMacauChina
  3. 3.School of Educational ScienceGanNan Normal UniveristyGanzhouChina
  4. 4.School of ManagementJinan UniversityGuangzhouChina
  5. 5.School of PsychologySouth China Normal UniversityGuangzhouChina

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