Parenting of children under two: severe physical punishment and psychological aggression Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Zolotor, Adam J.
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Maternal and Child Health
  • Severe physical discipline and psychological aggression towards children have well documented consequences and are along spectrum of parenting that can be part of, or lead to, child maltreatment. Some research has focused on the particular vulnerabilities of young children and suggests an even more pressing need to understand and prevent such victimization. To date, there have been few studies with sufficient samples to report on severe physical discipline and psychological aggression towards children under two. This study uses data from the largest reported population-based study of child victimization of children under two. Mothers were surveyed regarding parenting behaviors of themselves and their partners over the previous year using the Parent-Child Conflicts Tactics Scale as a core instrument with project developed items to learn more about shaking as a behavior. Nearly 3000 mothers (n=2946) completed this anonymous telephone survey. Nearly two percent (1.8%) of mothers reported using one or more types of severe physical discipline in the last year. One percent self-reported shaking by themselves or their partner. Of these, 90% reported shaking occurred in the context of anger, frustration, potential harm, or aversive stimulus (i.e., crying). Nearly four times as many mothers reported observing someone else (not self or partner) shake a child under two in the last year. Yelling was endorsed by 39% of mothers, with 11% reporting frequent yelling ([greater than or equal to] 12 times in the last year). One or more types of severe psychological aggression were reported by 7% of mothers. Increasing child age, use of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy, and spanking are salient risk factors for reported use of psychological aggression. Psychological aggression was endorsed by nearly two-fifths of mothers of children under two with yelling being a prevalent strategy. Given current understanding of the consequences of psychological aggression, more attention should be paid to this and other forms of psychological aggression. Parent educators and primary care clinicians should discourage this type of negative, coercive, and potentially destructive type of discipline.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Public Health in the Department of Maternal and Child Health"
  • Kotch, Jonathan
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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