A new study reveals that verbal and physical abuse punishments for children can create uncertain adolescent behavior and lead to a decrease in educational achievement.
The team analyzed over 1,000 students for the study, which revealed that children who have dealt with harsh parenting were likelier to participate in negative behavior and delinquency as teens, which were also linked to a lower educational accomplishment by the time they hit 21.
It is important to note, the study is not the first of its kind when it comes to negative associations on the physiological behavior of children who experience harsh parenting punishments, which is defined as abusive and physical threats, yelling, or hitting as a way to parent children. For example, a 2014 PLOS One study linked harsh punishments by parents as an increased risk of behavioral and emotional issues in children and newer research has also provided a connection to decreased academic accomplishments, as well as lowered learning.
Study lead, Rochelle F. Hentges, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, and team were on a mission to find the behaviors that lead to a decrease in academic achievement within those who experienced harsh punishments while growing up. The team reviewed data of Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study students from grade seven up until they hit 21 years of age.
During the research, students reported their experiences around harsh parenting, sexual behaviors, social dealings with peers, as well as any delinquent behaviors. Educational accomplishments were assessed for each student once they hit 21 and were calculated based on the amount of years they completed in school.
Medical News Today reported that students who experienced harsh parenting punishments in grade seven were likelier to prioritize peers more than responsibilities (i.e. parental rules) come high school (ninth grade), versus students who had more lenient forms of punishment as children.
Overall, the study revealed that students that were exposed to harsh parenting had an increased risk of participating in uncertain behaviors by the time they hit grade 11. These ‘dicey’ behaviors include: stealing, sexual behaviors, hitting, and other perilous activities. As such, these individuals were also linked with lower education achievements once they hit 21.
The hypothesis around this all, coming from Hentges, is due to the fact that these youths may not have their needs met by parents and thus look for confirmation by peers; making them the priority versus their parents and rules. Unfortunately, this turns to unhealthy validation from friends which may include delinquency and early sexual activities that can jeopardize education goals.