Methods: This study uses data from The Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) Assessments 0-9, a multi-site, longitudinal study exploring the antecedents and consequences of child maltreatment. Data from 3 sites (n = 477) and information on mothers collected at child age 4 was used. Parenting attitude was measured using the AAPI which consists of 4 subscales: Appropriate Expectations, Appropriate Empathy, Values Non-Corporal Discipline, and Appropriate Family Roles. Maternal childhood abuse was measured via self-report using a study-developed measure (Hunter & Everson, 1991). Eight dichotomous questions regarding recollection of physical and/or sexual abuse during childhood were utilized and a variable reflecting 3 levels of maternal childhood abuse - no abuse, either physical or sexual abuse, and both forms was created. Demographic information including mother's age at child's birth, years of education, receipt of AFDC, and race was examined for patterns of association with the AAPI subscales using correlation analysis, cross tab analysis, and independent-samples t tests.
Results: Cross tab analysis showed significantly higher levels of childhood abuse among Whites (n = 96) compared with non-Whites (n = 381). Race and childhood levels of abuse were found to be significantly related, Pearson Χ2(2, N = 477) = 11.36, p = .003. Independent-samples t tests showed that Whites had significantly higher AAPI scores on all the subscales compared with non-Whites. For Expectations, t(475) = -4.54, p = .000, for Empathy t(475) = -5.34, p = .000, for Non-Corporal Discipline, t(475) = -2.70, p = .008, and for Family Roles, t(475) = -7.38, p = .000. However, correlation analyses only showed a significant positive correlation between childhood levels of abuse and all AAPI subscales among non-Whites; for Expectations r = .14, p = .001, for Empathy r = .09, p = .028, for Non-Corporal Discipline r = .08, p = .045, and for Family Roles, r = .14, p = .001. For Whites, the only significant correlation between childhood levels of abuse and AAPI subscales was on Family Roles, r = .15, p = .038.
Implications: This exploratory study suggests a racial difference in the results on the AAPI instrument, with a possible bias towards parenting attitudes of Whites. Non-Whites who have a history of childhood abuse may be completing the AAPI instrument with either more awareness of accepted White parenting attitudes and/or socially desirable responses. By improving our understanding of the possible cultural differences in reported parenting attitudes, research and interventions that rely on the use of commonly used instruments can control for potential biases.