Child Disciplines or Child Abuse in Cultures

Because child abuse and maltreatment is a problem all across the world especially in the United States, often times child discipline and child abuse can be intertwined. Yet the difficult part actually understands the different cultures and how they discipline their children. In some ways we can view it as child abuse yet they can view it as an effective way of disciplining their children. The long term effects of child abuse are major. Yet the right methods of child discipline are much needed for the protection and well being of a child. One factor that makes a vital part in child discipline is the surroundings the family is in. It is much needed for an adult to discipline their children in areas where negative factors surround the family everyday. Yet could the negative factors and surroundings help fuel the cause of harsher child discipline which is really child abuse? My thesis is that different ethnic backgrounds have harsher child disciplines that can be viewed as child abuse due to their surroundings and upbringings.

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This subject has become a popular debate and also a difficult one to really figure out because many studies have different results and takes on how they feel cultures are going bout their ways in disciplining their children. For example America as a whole compared to the rest of the world is viewed as lacking the proper discipline. There is even a divide in man foreign countries to where when their citizens come to America and adapt to American culture, they change and become more lenient than their original native countries. In the Pacific island of Palau, parents tie a rope to a leg of a toddler to a post of a door when the parents aren’t unable to supervise the children and often spank them with brooms bruising the skin and leaving them with bruises. In America that can be considered as child abuse, yet some countries view male circumcising, denying children of food between mealtimes and forcing infants to cry themselves to sleep is considered child abuse in others.

In the study “Child Discipline and Physical Abuse in Immigrant Latino Families” it focuses on the counseling of low income immigrant Latino families that come to America and are not aware of their child discipline actions in which where what they believe is fine but in America it is considered child abuse. “Finally some Latino parents, like parents from other groups, punish their children in cruel and malicious ways that would be considered abusive in any other culture (Fontes,2002). The thing that was interesting about this study is the debate if the Latino immigrant cultures that comes to America and their child discipline behavior. Reason being because we as America view in some cases as child abuse yet they view it as good child discipline. They are very family orientated and very family proud in a since that they pride on family respect and discipline towards older beings. When children act out in public they are quick to discipline in public in which some of us can view it as child abuse.

The second study “Parents Attitudes and Discipline Practices” was a survey sample of 1000 parents talking about the parents attitudes, discipline practices and other parenting that was analyzed(Thompson,1999) What was interesting about this study was that they analyzed the 1000 adults and also took note of their surrounding and other factors about there personal lives and group them into three groups. They were asked questions as whether their child disciplines “left a mark”, ever did actions of “neglect”, were “abused” or “sexually abused when they were children”, “witnessed partner violence when they were younger”, “anger mismanagement when younger”, how often they “agreed with their partner”, “fought with their partner”, and if there “disciplinary acts” were effective. This study was interesting because the group that showed more negative signs had many negative factors that surrounded them also. Factors such as the neighborhood quality, lack of money, been divorced etc. Interesting because the group that had more negative factors also all viewed their methods as being effective but the ones that had more negative factors surrounding them had a tendency to be more aggressive and verbally aggressive.

The third study “Ethnic differences in the link between physical discipline and later adolescent externalizing behaviors” suggest that there are ethnic differences between physical discipline and children adjustment (quote). This study was interesting because it focused on the African Americans and the European Americans and their discipline strategies and how it affected children at certain ages. There results showed that African Americans used more physical punishment as appropriate ways to discipline their children more than European Americans. Yet the study also showed that with more physical discipline with European Americans meant more of a negative outcome for European Americans and their children. Compared to African Americans, the more physical European Americans got, the worse there children turned out in later years. “The correlations show positive associations between physical discipline and adolescent problem behavior in the European American group but neglible or even negative associations between the same variables in the African American group (Lansford,Deckard,Dodge,Bates,Pettit,2004)” Also that European Americans would use more physical force in later years than African Americans and African Americans used more in early years when disciplining their children

The last study “Neighborhood Correlates of Cultural Differences in Perceived Effectiveness of Parental Disciplinary Tactics” was interesting because it took a survey of 3,115 adults living in the state of Texas and asked them the rate of effectiveness for child discipline by these 8 choices: Explain, Ignore, Slap Hand, Spank with Hand, Threaten, Timeout, Withdraw Privileges and Yell. Interesting with this study because it showed that African Americans no matter what type of neighborhood they were in, viewed Yell and Threaten as more of an effective way than European Americans did. Latin Americans living in America longer viewed Spank and Slap as less effective then more rural Latin’s. Europeans viewed Threaten, Ignore, Slap and Spank more effective the more ineffective in which the neighborhood that they lived in. Also that African Americans viewed no more the same as European Americans when it came to slap hand and spank. “African American respondents were no more likely to endorse physical discipline strategies as effective than were European American respondents (Franzini, Caughy, 2005)”.

In conclusion, there is a lot of the research out there about the effectiveness of child disciple in cultures and whether it is child abuse or not. A lot of them in ways contradict other researches in which the four sources that were presented in this paper, in one point in time found other researches that they said was either incorrect or their results showed deferentially. It concludes me to believe that this is a subject that ultimately depends on the family itself and how their children respond to their ways of discipline. It was common that in all four of the sources that African Americans and Latin Americans aka minorities are more aggressive with their style of discipline. It is important to note that since the kids are acculturated and adaptive to more of the aggressive style; it would only explain the reason for not being as nearly as effected in a negative way compared to European Americans. European Americans seems to have the culture to be less aggressive thus when more physical actions is put into place for discipline, their children are more likely to be affected in a negative way. So my thesis was that different ethnic backgrounds and their child discipline acts can be viewed as child abuse because of their upbringings and surroundings. The second study ” Parents Attitudes and Discipline Practices” stated that neighborhoods take into effect but the study didn’t mention the different types of cultures, it just talked about the people they grouped together depending on their questions. While “Neighborhood Correlates of Cultural Differences in Perceived Effectiveness of Parental Disciplinary Tactics” explained that their African American and Spanish Americans even though living in less economic status neighborhoods than European Americans still had the same level of child discipline behavior. Now it is still hard to believe that factors in neighborhoods do not take effect yet studies that were drawn out were people that all believed were doing the right disciplines to discipline their children. So my thesis ended up proving to be incorrect in that it is very hard for us to view what they’re doing as child abuse if it’s an effective way in raising their children. We can only tell if its child abuse when it really becomes ineffective to the child.

Reference Page

1.Brien,O.H& Franzini, L. (2005). Neighborhood Correlates of Cultural Differences in Perceived Effectiveness of Parental Disciplinary Tactics. Parenting: Science and Practice, 5, 119-151

2. Lansford, E. J., Deckard, D. K., Dodge. E. J., & Pettit, S. G. (2004) Ethnic Differences in the link between physical discipline and later adolescent externalizing behaviors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45,801-812

3. Fontes, A. L. (2002) Child Discipline and Physical Abuse in Immigrant Latino Families: Reducing Violence and Misunderstandings. Journal of Counseling and Development, 80, 31-39

4. Thompson, A.R. (1999) Parent Attitudes and Discipline Practices: Profiles and Correlates in a Nationally Representative Sample. Child Maltreatment, 4, 316-330



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