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Most Parents Bully Their Kids: Study

Survey finds many children experience screaming, shouting from parents

THURSDAY, Nov. 20, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Psychological aggression toward children was noted in almost all 991 American parents who took part in a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Almost all the parents reported using yelling, screaming or shouting as a method of correction or to control a child's behavior.

"This means that nearly all parents, regardless of other demographic characteristics, used at least some psychological aggression as a disciplinary tactic," researcher Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, says in a prepared statement.

In their study, Straus and co-author Carolyn Field, a sociology researcher at Elizabethtown College, note parents and authorities are reluctant to label this type of aggression as abuse. One reason for that may be the widely held belief that such a label would require a criminal justice response or child welfare intervention.

"Not true. Many less extreme steps to end psychological aggression are possible, starting with public service television spots to sensitize parents to the problem," Straus says.

He and Field also say they disagree with the common belief that such occasional instances of psychological aggression does not harm resilient children.

"There is no empirical evidence to indicate occasional psychological abuse, such as the frustrated parent 'blowing off steam,' is harmless," Straus says.

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SOURCE: National Council on Family Relations, news release, Nov. 14, 2003
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