Punitive childhood experiences reported by young adults over a 10-year period

Child Abuse Negl. 1994 Feb;18(2):155-66. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(94)90117-1.


Using a standardized questionnaire, descriptions of disciplinary childhood experiences were obtained from 11,660 university undergraduates over a 10-year period. Results indicated that there were no systematic changes in reports of physical discipline experienced by young adults over the decade sampled, suggesting the prevalence of physical abuse among predominately middle-income families is not evidencing any significant change. Additionally, regardless of whether their early childhood antedated or succeeded the growth in public attention to physical abuse, most young adults who reported severely punitive or injurious disciplinary events failed to categorize those experiences as abusive. The implications of the results are discussed in the context of efforts to raise public awareness of abuse and efforts to reduce possible transgenerational patterns of maltreatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Punishment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*