Abstract: Childhood Abuse Experience and Its Association with Domestic Violence Among Asian-American Parents (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

297P Childhood Abuse Experience and Its Association with Domestic Violence Among Asian-American Parents

Friday, January 12, 2018
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Yookyong Lee, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Fuhua Zhai, PhD, Associate Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Qin Gao, Ph.D., Professor, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background: Researchers in family studies and child welfare have examined various risk and protective factors related to childhood abuse history and domestic violence. Previous studies, however, have focused on white, African-American, and Hispanic parents, while a fast-growing minority population, Asian-American parents, has been understudied. When cultural values and beliefs are interacted with parents’ childhood abuse experiences, the consequence of this combination may be difficult to predict. It is, therefore, critical to examine how Asian cultures could change or moderate the influence of parents’ own childhood abuse experiences in their parenting and child discipline. More culturally-sensitive and culturally-based knowledge on childhood experience among Asian immigrant families is necessary to prevent and intervene for later adult life risks. To fill the gap in the literature, the present study examined childhood abuse history and its association with domestic violence among Asian-American parents.    

Methods: This study used the complete data from 459 Asian American parents who resided in New York. Each participant had a face-to-face interview survey with a licensed bi-lingual social worker. The survey questions included: (1) cultural values; (2) childrearing practices and beliefs; (3) parental stress and mastery; (4) child discipline; (5) feelings of being a parent and social support; (6) life experiences; and (7) family demographic information. In this study, the dependent variable was a proxy for domestic violence. The key independent variable was childhood abuse history. Cultural values and beliefs, age, education, employment, health, drinking, and marital status were also controlled. Logistic regression was conducted to examine the possible effect of childhood abuse history on current domestic violence experience among Asian American parents.

Results: The average age of parents was 40.7 years (SD=6.92) and ranged from 21 to 65.  More than 56% of parents had some college or higher degree of education. Twenty-five percent of parents were homemakers. About 90% of parents were married. Logistic regression analysis results showed that if parents reported childhood abuse history, they were 2.8 times more likely to experience domestic violence compared to those who did not report such history. If they were not working and if they reported drinking, there were also at risk for experiencing domestic violence. Those who reported good-excellent health were less likely to report experiencing domestic violence. If parents are married, they were less likely to experience domestic violence.

Conclusions and Implications: The findings from this study suggest that childhood abuse history should be addressed when working immigrant families. Prior literature explored the relationship between childhood abuse history and its effect on adult life. Childhood abuse history has long lasting negative effects on health, mental health, and parenting behavior. These are all closely linked to children’s wellbeing. Community-based social service agencies may provide support and monitoring programs for those who had childhood abuse history so that parents can overcome their trauma. Community outreach to raise awareness about potential negative outcomes of domestic violence may be important. Future studies should explore the role of childhood abuse history in Asian families as well as its connection to overall family interactions.