201840 Perceived Instrumentality and Normativeness of Corporal Punishment are Key Motivators for its Use among Low-Income African American Parents

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lauren Hamvas, MPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA
Catherine A. Taylor, PhD , Department of Community Health Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA
Ruth Paris, PhD , Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA
INTRODUCTION: There is a strong association between how one was disciplined as a child and how one disciplines their own children; attitudes about child discipline explain more than half of this linkage. Epidemiological studies have shown that attitudes toward and use of corporal punishment (CP) vary by region, ethnicity, and religion. This study was designed to develop a better understanding of root socio-cultural factors linked with CP use and child maltreatment risk.

METHODS: Five semi-structured focus groups were conducted with African American mothers from a Head Start child care center in a Southern city (n=18). Qualitative data were audio-recorded and transcripts were reviewed, coded, and analyzed to identify common themes.

RESULTS: Most of these parents believed that use of CP was the norm among parents they knew. Norms rooted in family (“the way you were raised and brought up is … the way you are going to discipline your child”), culture (“By cultural I mean … racial … being southerners”), and religion emerged as primary explanations for this. They also felt that CP was common because “it works.” Parents used CP to teach their children right from wrong, protect them from an unfair world, and prevent them from later troubles with the law and police: ““I would rather …spank him now, than for the police, or the lawyer, or the judge to spank him with twenty years.”

DISCUSSION: Findings will inform multi-level child abuse prevention efforts designed to shift social norms (i.e., attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors) about CP.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe various influences on parents’ use of corporal punishment 2. Describe parents' main goals and hopes for their children that justify using corporal punishment

Keywords: Violence Prevention, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have an MPH and have a particular interest in children's health issues. I have been involved with this research since 2008 and have written articles related to this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.