Mentor: Dr. Murray A. Straus, Professor of Sociology/Director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.
Ethnic Differences in Child-Rearing Attitudes
The study is based on the assumption that ethnic groups differ in the way they bring up children. If so, they are likely to have different attitudes about child rearing. For example, previous studies have found that African-Americans are more in favor of corporal punishment than European-Americans. Information on ethnic group differences in child rearing is important because the way one is raised is a predictor of their future conduct. I analyzed data gathered by the Family Research Laboratory in the summer of 1995. A nationally representative sample of 1,000 parents who had one or more children under 18 living at home was interviewed. The ethnic composition was 81% Euro-Americans, 12% African-Americans, and 7% Other (Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native-Americans).
Nine attitude questions were asked. They can be categorized as either belonging to the category of strictness (ex: "It is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking") or belonging to the category of supportiveness (ex: "Generally speaking, when children do something especially good, they should be rewarded for it"). Chi-square tests were performed to see whether a significant difference exists between the three ethnic categories in whether they agreed or disagreed with each attitude question.
Preliminary results show that significant differences exist on some of the variables. For example, 34.4% of the African-Americans vs. 19% of Euro-Americans and 19% of the Others agreed with the idea that it is good for boys to get into a few fistfights when growing up. Using ANOVA (Analysis of Variance), the next step of the research will be to control for other influential variables such as socio-economic status, and single-parenthood, to see if ethnicity influences child-rearing attitudes after controlling for these other variables.