A new study claims ‘harsh’ parenting leads to greater high-school dropout rates and children engaging in unhealthy behaviors in their teens.
The nine-year study tracked 1,482 Maryland students (from seventh grade onwards), following them to three years past their expected high school graduation. The students were of various racial, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds — all from households that practice harsh discipline.
The study revealed that harsh parenting — parenting that includes frequent yelling, threats and hitting — does much more damage than good.
Students who were raised by parents who practiced harsh parenting techniques were significantly more likely than their peers to behave in riskier ways, opposite to what their parents were trying to emphasize. These teens were engaged in more deviant behaviors like hanging out with friends instead of upholding school responsibilities or even engaging in sexual activity earlier than their peers.
By 11th grade, researchers found there was more delinquent behavior in boys and more sexual activity in girls — all were more likely to drop out of high school than their peers.
University of Pittsburgh researcher, Rochelle Hentges, said that as humans, we pay attention to the cues of our environment. When there is a lot of harsh, unpredictable behavior surrounding us, we intrinsically work to achieve immediate and short-term rewards. On the other hand, those in stable environments do not feel the need to act so impulsively, and are able to put their resources toward long-range goals like future success and education.