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Corporal Punishment: Examining Attitudes Toward the Law and Factors Influencing Attitude Change

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There remains considerable societal support for child corporal punishment, despite much research about its ineffectiveness and potential harm to children. We examined attitudes toward Section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Code which gives parents the right to use reasonable physical force for discipline purposes. We also examined attitude change and predictors of this change. Participants (N = 212) completed an on-line study, which found that 39.2 % disagreed with ending Section 43. Upon presentation of corporal punishment-related information, the majority (63.8–70.5 %) now indicated being in favor of ending Section 43. Attitude change was highest for information on the potential for child abuse. Socio-demographics (ethnicity, religion), childhood disciplinary experiences (non-punitive discipline), and discipline perceptions (parental warmth/involvement) predicted attitude change. Results indicate that providing information about corporal punishment is key to changing attitudes toward parents’ legal right to its use. Also, parental background and childhood discipline characteristics may differentially influence the amount of attitude change.

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We would like to thank Dr. Dwayne Schindler for help with statistical analyses.

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Correspondence to Elisa Romano.

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Romano, E., Bell, T. & Norian, R. Corporal Punishment: Examining Attitudes Toward the Law and Factors Influencing Attitude Change. J Fam Viol 28, 265–275 (2013).

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