An Examination of Parenting Practices in Asian-American Men With Criminal Justice Involvement
Despite rapid growth rates in the U.S. population (2010 U.S. Census) and increased involvement in the U.S. criminal justice system (Stephan & Karberg, 2003), little is known about Asian-Americans in the criminal justice system. This study compared parenting behaviors and beliefs of Asian-American men in the U.S. criminal justice system to their White, Non-White, and Multiracial counterparts. It addressed the following questions: Do Asian-American males utilize a preventive discipline strategy? Do they utilize a harsh strategy? How effective do they believe their parenting is?
Individual interviews were conducted with 112 men (59 Whites, 29 Asian-American, 12 other non-Whites, and 12 Multiracial; age range of 20-64) on parole or probation, recruited in Oregon over a three-year period (2006-2009). After obtaining contact information for participants from parole officers, courts, community agency staff, and through ads in local newspapers, project staff members personally contacted and recruited participants. Only individuals who were not convicted of a violent crime or sexual offense were deemed eligible for participation, and all study participants lived with or had regular weekly contact with a child age 15 years of younger.
Measures for this study included demographic characteristics, corrections-involvement histories, archival records of incarceration, and discipline questions. Regarding discipline, participants were asked series of questions about their engagement in Preventive Discipline (i.e., How often do you warn that a specific punishment will happen?) and Harsh Discipline behaviors (i.e., How often do you yell?); and Perceived Efficacy, (i.e., How often do you feel the discipline you use does not improve the child’s behavior?). Data analyses consisted of factor and reliability analyses, summary statistics, as well as one-way ANOVAs and their accompanying post-hoc tests.
One-way between-groups ANOVAs were conducted to explore the relationship between ethnicity and Preventive Discipline, Harsh Discipline, and Perceived Efficacy of Discipline. There was a statistically significant difference at the p<.001, p<.01, and p<.05 level respectively, by ethnic group. Post-hoc comparisons for Preventive Discipline indicated that the mean score for Asian-American males (M=2.53; SD=.96) was significantly lower than their White (M=3.64; SD=.58 ) and Multiracial (M=3.36; SD=.52) counterparts. For Harsh Discipline, post-hoc comparisons indicated that the mean score for Asian-American males (M=1.73; SD=.74) was significantly lower than their White (M=2.43; SD=.68) counterparts. Finally, post-hoc comparisons for Beliefs in Efficacy indicated that the mean score for Asian-American males (M=2.07; SD=.64) were significantly lower than their Multiracial (M=3.15; SD=1.11) counterparts.
Findings suggest that Asian-American, as compared to White and Multiracial, fathers with corrections involvement, report using fewer prevention strategies (i.e., warnings before disciplinary action) and fewer harsh strategies (i.e., spanking on the bottom). As compared to Multiracial fathers, Asian-Americans also perceive themselves as more likely to improve their children’s behavior with discipline. This study provides unique insight into this group’s parenting strengths as well as needs for parenting support. Because the study sample is not representative, replication of these findings will be important to better understand parenting behavior and perceptions of Asian-American fathers.