The methodology used in Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to collect data on child discipline is based on a set of questions covering different discipline methods, including non-violent forms of discipline, psychological aggression and physical means of punishing children. The standard UNICEF indicator refers to the percentage of children aged 2–14 years who experience any form of violent discipline (physical punishment and/or psychological aggression).
The child discipline module is adapted from the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS-PC), which is an epidemiological instrument used to assess the treatment of children. Psychological aggression refers to the action of shouting, yelling or screaming at a child, as well as calling a child offensive names such as ‘dumb’ and ‘lazy’. Physical (or corporal) punishment is an action intended to cause physical pain or discomfort (but not injuries). Physical punishment is defined as shaking the child, hitting or slapping him/her on the hand/arm/leg, hitting him/her on the bottom or elsewhere on the body with a hard object, spanking or hitting him/her on the bottom with a bare hand, hitting or slapping him/her on the face, head or ears, and beating him/her over and over as hard as possible.
MICS surveys have standardized modules for child discipline:
The non-violent disciplinary practices included in the child discipline module are: (1) explaining why a behaviour is wrong, (2) taking away privileges or not allowing him/her to leave the house, and (3) giving him/her something else to do.
In MICS3, the child discipline module was administered only to mothers/primary caregivers, who were asked whether any of the discipline methods covered in the module had been used by any member of the household during the month preceding the interview. For MICS4, the methodology was changed whereby any adult household member, not just the mother or primary caregiver, can respond to the questions on child discipline.