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Just under 1450 people responded to the Relationships Australia online survey in April 2017.  Around three‑quarters of survey respondents (77%) identified as female, with more females than males responding in every age group (see figure 1 below).  Fewer than 14 per cent of survey respondents were younger than 20 years or older than 59 years, with more than 55 per cent of respondents comprising women aged between 30-49 years (inclusive).

As for previous surveys, the demographic profile of survey respondents remains consistent with our experience of the groups of people that would be accessing the Relationships Australia website.

Survey respondents were asked about their own experiences of corporal punishment when they were children.   There were no significant differences between the reports of men and women, with four‑fifths (80%) of survey respondents reporting that they were smacked/corporally punished as children (figure 2).


There were also no significant differences between the reports of men and women in regard to smacking/corporally punishing their own children.  Of those respondents with children, just over fifty per cent (51%) reported they had smacked/corporally punished their own child (figure 3), lower proportions than those which were reported for the adult responder’s experience of corporal punishment in their childhood.


When asked about the use of instruments when smacking/corporally punishing a child, a substantial majority of survey respondents reported that they did not support this practice.  Men (17%) were significantly more likely than women (8%) to report that it was reasonable to use an instrument such as a wooden spoon to smack/corporally punish a child (figure 4).


A substantial majority of men and women reported parenting books or their own parents were the most reliable sources of advice on disciplining children.  Women were significantly more likely than men to report parenting books (women-40%, men-28%) and friends (women-12%, men-8%) as the most reliable sources of advice.  Men were more likely than women (men-36%, women-23%) to report their parents as the most reliable source of advice on disciplining children (figure 5).


Almost all men and women respondents (96%) did not agree that men and women are justified in occasionally giving each other a smack during an argument.  In contrast, when asked whether they would support a ban on all corporal punishment in the home if it meant that parents who occasionally smacked their children would not be prosecuted, there were significant differences between the reports of men and women.  Women (59%)  were more likely than men (45%) to report that they would support a ban, while a substantial minority (20%) of men and women were undecided whether they would, or would not, support a ban (figure 6).

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites