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Aggressive Parental Discipline Experienced in Childhood and Internalizing Problems in Early Adulthood

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Parental use of aggressive discipline, specifically corporal punishment (CP) and psychological aggression (PA), has been shown to increase the risk for a number of problem behaviors in children and adolescents. How CP and PA experienced in childhood contribute to adverse developmental outcomes in adulthood remains to be understood. Survey data collected from University of Manitoba students (n = 1133) was used to assess the effects of childhood experiences of CP and PA on internalizing problems (i.e., depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem) in early adulthood. Because aggressive disciplinary techniques do not occur in isolation, a number of protective factors were also considered in analyses. Both CP and PA were associated with lower levels of parental warmth/support and responsiveness, and more inconsistency in discipline. However, highly inductive parents tended to use CP and PA more frequently than less inductive parents. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that childhood PA predicted anxiety and lower self-esteem in adulthood, even after the effects of positive parenting were taken into account. These findings suggest that not only do CP and PA tend to occur within environments that are less conducive to positive development, but also predict problematic developmental outcomes in adulthood even after the effects of protective factors are taken into account.

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Correspondence to Tamara L. Taillieu.

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This research was supported in part by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Graduate Scholarship to Tamara L. Taillieu. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Angele Fauchier and Dr. Murray Straus at the University of New Hampshire for their invaluable assistance in making this research possible.

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Taillieu, T.L., Brownridge, D.A. Aggressive Parental Discipline Experienced in Childhood and Internalizing Problems in Early Adulthood. J Fam Viol 28, 445–458 (2013).

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