صحبت درباره تنبیه بدنی: 9دیدگاه مادران آمریکایی آفریقایی تبار ' کم درآمد
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|31027||2004||22 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Volume 19, Issue 3, 3rd Quarter 2004, Pages 463–484
Qualitative interviews conducted over the course of 5 years with nine young low-income African American mothers were analyzed in order to gain understanding of their perspectives on corporal punishment. All used corporal punishment with their children. Results pertain to the vocabulary mothers used to describe corporal punishment (pop, tap, whup, spank, hit, and smack), the circumstances in which different levels of corporal punishment were used, the criteria mothers used when deciding whom to allow to administer corporal punishment to their children, and the reasons they supported the use of (non-abusive) corporal punishment.
As pointed out by Holden (2002), few parenting topics evoke as much emotion and controversy as the use of corporal punishment for disciplining children. Practitioners, like researchers, are divided in their conclusions regarding its appropriateness and efficaciousness. Dobson (1997) and Leman (2003), for example, advocate spanking and teach its judicious use, while Gardere (1999), Severe (2002), and Taylor (2001) caution parents to avoid spanking and offer instruction in alternative guidance methods. One certainty is that corporal punishment is widespread, cutting across all segments of U.S. society. Straus and Stewart (1999) have reported that about 94% of American parents spank their children. Nonetheless, the likelihood that parents will endorse and use corporal punishment is greatest in lower-income homes and when mothers (1) are younger rather than older, (2) are employed, (3) have high school educations or less, (4) are religiously conservative, and (5) have children of preschool age (the peak child age is 3) (Day, Peterson, & McCracken, 1998; Giles-Sims, Straus, & Sugarman, 1995; Pinderhughes, Dodge, Bates, Pettit, & Zelli, 2000; Straus & Stewart, 1999; Xu, Tung, & Dunaway, 2000). In addition, African American parents are more likely to endorse corporal punishment than are European American parents. They also use it with more frequency (Giles-Sims et al., 1995 and Deater-Deckard et al., 2003; Heffer & Kelley, 1987; McLoyd & Smith, 2002; Straus, 2001 and Xu et al., 2000). After performing a meta-analysis of 88 studies on the child outcomes associated with corporal punishment, Gershoff (2002) concluded that, while corporal punishment may contribute to children's short-term compliance with parental demands, it does not contribute to their internalization of parental values regarding positive behavior. Other researchers, such as Holden (2002), Straus (2001), and McCord (1997) likewise argue strongly against its use. However, the title of one of Baumrind's several articles on this issue, “A Blanket Injunction against Disciplinary Spanking is not Warranted by the Data,” (1996a) summarizes an alternative position. The validity of many studies, including those in Gershoff's meta-analysis, have been criticized as seriously flawed. Common methodological problems include lack of distinction between ordinary and abusive corporal punishment, cross-sectional rather than longitudinal research designs, lack of control for important third variables, reliance on retrospective recall from parents or children, shared source, and/or inattention to the possible moderating impacts of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and parental warmth on the links between corporal punishment and child outcomes (Baumrind, 1996b, Baumrind, 2003 and Deater-Deckard et al., in press; Gunnoe, 2003 and Larzelere, 2003). An additional issue is related to the “packaged nature” of parenting. Singling corporal punishment out from the wide array of tactics used by parents is most likely a misguided research strategy; children are more likely to be affected by the overall style of discipline used in their families than by any single practice ( Baumrind, 1996b, Baumrind, 2003, Holden, 2002 and Parke, 2002). In fact, a growing body of evidence indicates that in both low- and middle-income families, mild or moderate corporal punishment is not by itself predictive of internalizing or externalizing problems in children (Baumrind, 2003). Instead, the meanings ascribed to it by parents and children appear to be crucial; these meanings seem to depend on the parental warmth accompanying it and family ethnicity or sociocultural context. While some researchers (e.g., McLoyd & Smith, 2002; Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997) have found no moderating impacts of maternal warmth or ethnicity on the child outcomes associated with corporal punishment, in general, studies based on African American samples provide especially consistent evidence of benign or beneficial consequences when corporal punishment is combined with warmth (Deater-Deckard, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1996; Gunnoe & Mariner, 1997). Additionally, McLeod, Kruttschnitt, and Dornfeld (1994) found that, unlike the pattern in European American families, in African American families, corporal punishment is the result rather than the cause of children's antisocial behavior. The fact that corporal punishment predicts different outcomes in African American, as compared to European American, families underscores the need for sensitive descriptive data exploring parents’ cognitions underlying its use (Parke, 2002 and Xu et al., 2000). According to the social information processing perspective, individuals (consciously or unconsciously) base their action choices on their goals, their interpretations of incoming information, their knowledge of various strategies, and their assessment of the potential for those strategies to achieve desired goals. For parents dealing with children's misbehavior, these elements may be childrearing goals (e.g., obedience or creativity), attributions regarding the intentionality of children's transgressions, familiarity with various disciplinary strategies, and belief in the effectiveness of each of those strategies for the particular misbehavior at hand (Grusec, Rudy, & Martini, 1997; Lemerise & Arsenio, 2000; Pinderhughes et al., 2000). Ecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) proposes that all of these elements are influenced by pressures from multiple levels of the human environment. These levels range from proximal microsystems involving face-to-face relationships to distal macrosystems shaping political ideology, economic security, and cultural values. At the level of the microsystem, we know that parenting goals and behaviors are affected by the direct, indirect, and reciprocal influences that family members have on one another (Belsky, 1984). At the level of the macrosystem, the impacts of economic downturns and poverty on parenting have been well-documented; studies indicate that financial hardship predicts parental stress and marital problems and, in turn, harsh discipline (e.g., Brody & Flor, 1998; Conger, Ge, Elder, Lorenz, & Simons, 1994; McLoyd, 1998). The cultural underpinnings of ethnic differences in parenting goals and practices are also widely recognized (e.g., Bornstein, 1991, Goodnow, 1985, Ispa, 1994 and LeVine et al., 1994). Accordingly, Holloway, Fuller, Rambaud, and Eggers-Piérola (1997) found that the extent to which the low-income mothers in their qualitative study adopted the disciplinary techniques recommended by Head Start teachers, caseworkers and other “experts” depended on the pull of family tradition and cultural values interacting with their current life circumstances. Further understanding of the reasons corporal punishment is used in low-income African American homes (and appears to be less harmful for African American children than for European American children) will thus benefit from examinations built on social information processing and sociocultural perspectives. One way to contribute to this endeavor is through an exploration of the motivations and meanings attached to corporal punishment by African American parents. Several issues are of particular interest in this regard. Many researchers make the point that corporal punishment varies among families in both frequency and severity. The distinction between “customary,” “ordinary,” or “normative” (the terms typically used) physical discipline and abusive hitting that inflicts physical injury is especially emphasized (Baumrind, 2003; Baumrind, Larzelere, & Cowan, 2002; Day et al., 1998; Deater-Deckard & Dodge, 1997; Gershoff, 2002; McLoyd & Smith, 2002). However, little attention has been paid to categorizing forms of non-abusive corporal punishment according to the body part hit or the method of administration (Day et al., 1998 and Lytton, 1997). We also know little about the ways mothers themselves label and think about different types of corporal punishment. If we are to understand mothers’ cognitions related to physical discipline, we must know the terms they themselves give to it and how those terms vary depending on severity, method of administration, and/or body part hit. In an article describing their qualitative study of elderly African American women's reasoning about physical discipline, Mosby, Rawls, Meehan, Mays, and Pettinari (1999) mention the women's use of terms such as spanking, whupping, and tapping and their clear distinction between these, of which they approved, and physical or verbal abuse, of which they strongly disapproved. The women, however, were not asked to define those terms. We must also learn from parents about the child transgressions most likely to be viewed as deserving of corporal punishment. On this score there is a fairly consistent literature indicating that parents’ concerns about the likely consequences of children's misbehaviors and their attributions regarding the causes of transgressions play critical roles. Many parents endorse the use of physical discipline when children are disobedient or defiant, violate moral standards, endanger themselves or others, or engage in repeated or escalated misbehavior. Parents are especially likely to believe that corporal punishment is justified if they think children misbehaved intentionally and “know better” (understand the rules they have violated and have the capacity to behave appropriately). These findings, however, are based largely on studies in which almost all the participants were European American (e.g., Catron & Masters, 1993; Culp, Culp, Dengler, & Maisano, 1999; Dix, Ruble, & Zambarano, 1989; Hastings & Grusec, 1998; Holden, Miller, & Harris, 1999; Pinderhughes et al., 2000 and Ritchie, 1999) or in which racial differences were not examined (e.g., Peterson, Ewigman, & Vandiver, 1994). To our knowledge, only two studies provided data specifically on African American ideas about child behaviors that should be met with corporal punishment, and neither sampled individuals who were currently parenting young children. Mosby et al. (1999) reported on a discussion among African American low-income elderly women who served as volunteer parenting mentors to mothers in their community. The women strongly supported the use of corporal punishment when children were perceived to be disobedient or disrespectful, especially if they were thought to know better. Examples of disobedience and disrespect that came up in conversation included asking repeatedly for something that had been denied, behaving in ways that embarrassed parents in public, and defying parents’ orders. African American college students interviewed by Flynn (1998) similarly favored spanking when children were disrespectful (e.g., talked back to a parent), disobeyed rules (e.g., stole), were aggressive toward peers, or misbehaved in public. These findings suggest similarity with the reasoning of European American parents, with the addition of an emphasis on teaching children not to embarrass parents in public. Information gathered from low-income African Americans who are currently parenting would add to this literature. We are also not aware of any studies in which parents were asked who is “eligible” to administer corporal punishment to their children, or what criteria they use in deciding. Understanding the criteria mothers use may lend insight into mothers’ childrearing values in general – how one must behave in order to be deserving of the right to administer corporal punishment – and their expectations about shared childrearing with relatives and friends. Finally, we are only beginning to understand why some parents choose to use corporal punishment instead of other disciplinary methods or in conjunction with them. Parke (2002) noted that parents base their decisions partially on their beliefs about the morality of using physical force with children and partially on their beliefs about its effectiveness. Accordingly, low-income African American mothers in Heffer and Kelley's (1987) sample and middle-income mothers in Holden et al.'s (1999) European American sample who said they spank indicated that it was not their preferred method but that they thought it was sometimes necessary. They were less likely than non-spanking mothers to believe in the effectiveness of alternatives such as time-out or reasoning. The elderly African American women in the study by Mosby et al. (1999) similarly agreed that corporal punishment is necessary in some cases; however, they added that nurturance and induction is an essential element of any disciplinary encounter. Like the middle-class mothers in Grusec and Kuczynski (1980) study, they thought power assertion should be used with reasoning. In addition, they were firm believers in the importance of timing, saying that physical discipline should immediately follow child transgressions. Interestingly, their support for immediate physical discipline was in part founded on their belief that acting quickly and firmly allows the mother to feel that she has taken care of the situation before she has had time to build up anger and resentment that might erupt into verbal abuse. Preventing verbal abuse was of high importance in these women's eyes because it was viewed as more harmful to children than moderate (but not severe) corporal punishment. The current project grows out of a 5-year qualitative study involving nine young African American mothers who enrolled in Early Head Start in its first 2 years of operation. The goal of the overall research was to further understanding of the strengths and challenges of inner-city families who daily face the circumstances of young single-parenthood, racial minority status, and poverty. Though at the outset we did not plan to focus our attention on corporal punishment, as the study progressed, we became increasingly aware of the importance of this issue for the mothers and the Early Head Start home visitors who worked with them. Positive parent–child relationships were a central goal of this intervention program. In the service of that goal, over the years of mothers’ Early Head Start involvement, home visitors provided them with verbal and printed information explaining the disadvantages of corporal punishment and the greater advantages of “positive guidance.” The findings of the national evaluation of Early Head Start reflect that emphasis. The data on the national sample as a whole show that a smaller proportion of program group parents of 2- and 3-year-olds, as compared to comparison group parents, said they had spanked their children in the preceding week (47% versus 54% at age 3; Administration on Children et al., 2001 and Administration on Children et al., 2002). When data from only the African American parents were examined, however, a different picture emerged. For this group of parents, Early Head Start program group versus comparison group differences were smaller and non-significant when children were 2 or 3 years old. For example, when children were 3, 61% of the program group parents and 65% of the comparison group parents said they had spanked in the past week (a non-significant difference; Administration on Children et al., 2001 and Administration on Children et al., 2002). Our in-depth study of the nine mothers in our qualitative project suggested a pattern along the same lines: while some of the mothers initially took their home visitors’ advice to heart and, for a period of time, refrained from spanking, by the end of their Early Head Start participation, all were using some form of corporal punishment. It became clear that we needed to know and understand the mothers’ thoughts on this score. The analyses that resulted in the current article thus grew out of an observation rather similar to that which motivated Mosby et al. (1999). Their study addressed the resistance that many social workers encounter when they try to persuade African American parents to stop using corporal punishment. Mosby and her colleagues worried that social workers may make inappropriate decisions, such as removing children from their homes, as a consequence of their lack of understanding of the meanings and rationales African American parents bring to corporal punishment. The overarching question guiding the current project, then, was, “What were the thoughts of the nine mothers that led them to persist in using physical discipline despite home visitors’ efforts to discourage its practice?” In the service of this question, we analyzed our data in order to further understanding of mothers’ distinctions among types of corporal punishment, their reasoning about the child misbehaviors that necessitate corporal punishment, the characteristics of the individuals seen as having the right to administer corporal punishment to their children, and their justifications for using corporal punishment rather than or in concert with other types of discipline.