Students' knowledge of child health and development: effects on approaches to discipline

J Sch Health. 1984 Mar;54(3):122-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.1984.tb08785.x.


Unrealistic developmental and behavioral expectations of children, which are associated with child abuse, are related to a lack of knowledge about child development and child rearing. The Iowa Child Development Test (ICDT) was administered to college students to determine their knowledge of child health and development and effects on disciplinary approaches. The results indicated that college students had inadequate knowledge and those who most frequently chose harsh disciplinary methods in simulated child management situations were least knowledgeable. This finding is similar to that reported in an earlier study of high school seniors. College men knew less than college women about child development and health, and more frequently selected harsh punishment. Although noneducation and education majors did not differ with regard to level of knowledge on the ICDT, noneducation majors more frequently chose punish and abuse responses. The findings suggest a need to provide broad-based programs in child rearing education prior to parenthood to reduce the potentiating effects of inadequate knowledge of child health and development on the incidence of child abuse.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child Development*
  • Child Rearing
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Students*
  • Universities*