Objective: We sought to examine the relationship between perceived and stated parental expectations regarding adolescents' use of violence, parental use of physical punishment as discipline, and young adolescents' violence-related attitudes and involvement.
Methods: Surveys were completed by 134 youth and their parents attending 8 pediatric practices. All youth were 10 to 15 years of age and had scored positive on a psychosocial screening test.
Results: Multivariate analyses revealed that perceived parental disapproval of the use of violence was associated with a more prosocial attitude toward interpersonal peer violence and a decreased likelihood of physical fighting by the youth. Parental report of whether they would advise their child to use violence in a conflict situation (stated parental expectations) was not associated with the adolescents' attitudes toward interpersonal peer violence, intentions to fight, physical fighting, bullying, or violence victimization. Parental use of corporal punishment as a disciplining method was inversely associated with a prosocial attitude toward interpersonal peer violence among the youth and positively correlated with youths' intentions to fight and fighting, bullying, and violence victimization.
Conclusions: Perceived parental disapproval of the use of violence may be an important protective factor against youth involvement in violence, and parental use of physical punishment is associated with both violence perpetration and victimization among youth. Parents should be encouraged to clearly communicate to their children how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence and to model these skills themselves by avoiding the use of physical punishment.