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Abstract

In the United States, not only are parents permitted to utilize corporal punishment in disciplining their children, but 19 states still permit the use of corporal punishment in schools. Teachers are legally bound to report suspected maltreatment, yet their school may engage in a discipline practice which they may consider abuse. This potential conflict depends on the teacher’s definition of “acceptable” physical discipline and abuse. Thus, teachers’ attitudes teachers towards corporal punishment and child maltreatment are critical.

Preservice teachers were surveyed about their attitudes towards corporal punishment, knowledge of child maltreatment and mandated reporting, personal experiences with corporal punishment and asked to rate several hypothetical parent-child discipline scenarios. Preliminary analyses indicate that despite a higher endorsement of and more personal experience with corporal punishment, African American participants did not differ from their Anglo counterparts in their ratings of parental discipline scenarios. These and other findings will be discussed.

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