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Child Abuse Negl. 2002 Aug;26(8):793-813.

The impact of culture upon child rearing practices and definitions of maltreatment.

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Department of Psychology, The College of New Rochelle, NY 10805, USA.



The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between a childhood history of abuse that a parent may have experienced and the cultural beliefs/factors that an individual may subscribe to with current parenting behaviors and attitudes. It was hypothesized that cultural factors would be more predictive of parenting behaviors and attitudes than ethnicity as a demographic label.


Using a survey design, 150 parents of Hispanic, African American and European American descent participated. Participants completed the Conflict Tactics Scale, a Familism Scale, a Machismo Scale, a Valuing Children Scale, the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and assigned seriousness ratings to vignettes depicting child maltreatment.


A history of childhood abuse was found to be predictive of the use of both physical and verbal punishment by mothers, but not for fathers. Cultural factors/beliefs were predictive of fathers' parenting behaviors, but not mothers'. Ethnicity, as a demographic variable, continued to be a significant predictor of parenting behaviors and attitudes for all parents, controlling for cultural factors.


The present study adds to our understanding of diverse parenting styles, of definitions of child abuse and neglect, and of ethnicity. The findings indicate that ethnicity is a complex factor, one demanding further examination with regard to its components.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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