Towards an Understanding of Children's Perceptions of Physical Punishment in the Family Context

Brooke Walton, Bernadette J. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


This qualitative synthesis explores how children perceive physical punishment in the family context. A search of four online databases identified eight qualitative studies. Findings revealed that children provided detailed accounts about their experiences of physical punishment, and they associated physical punishment with both emotional and physical pain. Children justified the use of physical punishment based on their precipitating behaviour, their status, and the intergenerational transmission of physical punishment. Children suggested alternative discipline to physical punishment, and urged caregivers to respect them. Children also recognised that physical punishment escalated in severity and negatively influenced the parent-child relationship. The results highlight the benefit of including children in research, the need to understand the factors that shape children's perspectives and, most importantly, the ongoing influence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (uncrc) (1989), to ensure that children's human rights are recognised, and more widely upheld worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-423
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Children's Rights
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • children's views
  • family
  • human rights
  • physical punishment
  • United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child

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