Murray Straus, UNH Prof Who Pioneered Research Into Family Violence, Has Died

May 20, 2016

Murray Straus.
Credit Courtesy UNH College of Liberal Arts

  A University of New Hampshire professor who pioneered research into family violence has died. 

UNH sociologist Murray Straus died on May 13, according to the university. He was 89. 

Straus dedicated much of his career to dispelling myths about violence.

In the 1970s he used survey research to show people were more likely to be assaulted or injured by family members than by strangers.

For decades he studied the effects of spanking and corporal punishment, which he warned not only failed to correct kids' behavior, but actually helped to perpetuate violence. 

"The child learns that when someone else is engaging in some serious misbehavior and quote-won't listen to reason-it's ok to hit them," Straus told NHPR's All Things Considered in 2014. "It gets played out later in life, particularly in partner assault."

Straus started at UNH in 1968 and led its Family Research Laboratory for decades. He wrote or co-wrote more than a dozen books and hundreds of scholarly articles. 

Colleagues plan to hold a memorial at a conference on family violence this July in Portsmouth.