Longitudinal links between spanking and children's externalizing behaviors in a national sample of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American families

Child Dev. May-Jun 2012;83(3):838-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01732.x. Epub 2012 Feb 3.


This study examined whether the longitudinal links between mothers' use of spanking and children's externalizing behaviors are moderated by family race/ethnicity, as would be predicted by cultural normativeness theory, once mean differences in frequency of use are controlled. A nationally representative sample of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American families (n = 11,044) was used to test a cross-lagged path model from 5 to 8 years old. While race/ethnic differences were observed in the frequency of spanking, no differences were found in the associations of spanking and externalizing over time: Early spanking predicted increases in children's externalizing while early child externalizing elicited more spanking over time across all race/ethnic groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Asian Americans / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / ethnology
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child Rearing / ethnology
  • Child Rearing / psychology
  • Continental Population Groups*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Family Characteristics
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Parents
  • Punishment / psychology*