Methods: Parents who participated in child maltreatment programs in 16 Texas counties were asked to complete a voluntary pre-survey detailing their risk and protective factors for child maltreatment. Due to the sensitive nature of immigration, participants were not directly asked about their immigration status. For this analysis, parents who completed surveys in Spanish are presumed to be first generation immigrants. Survey measures included the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure developed by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control. An independent sample t-test was employed to compare the overall ACE scores of Spanish-speaking and English-speaking participants. A reliability analysis was conducted on the ACE scale for Spanish-speakers and English-speakers. Finally, individual items on the ACE scale were also examined using chi-square tests to identify between-group differences by language.
Results: A total of 1,213 participants completed the survey, 824 of whom completed it in English and 389 of whom completed it in Spanish. The mean participant age was 29. The majority of the participants were female (94%); over half were single or divorced (52%); and almost half had an annual income of less than $10,000 (46%). The ACE scale had a high internal consistency for English-speaking participants (α= 0.87) and Spanish-speaking participants (α=0.88). There were no significant differences (t=0.61, p=0.54) between English-speaking participants (µ=2.84, SD=3.25) and Spanish-speaking participants (µ=2.68, SD=3.25). The only differences in individual ACE items were for bullying and domestic violence. Among Spanish-speaking participants, 4.7% reported experiencing repeated bullying as a child compared to 7.7% of English-speaking participants (Χ2=3.51, p=0.04). Among Spanish-speaking participants, 32.8% reported living in a home where parents were violent towards each other compared to 24.7% of English-speaking participants (Χ2=5.09, p=0.02).
Conclusions and Implications: ACEs occur at similar rates among English-speaking and Spanish-speaking participants in child maltreatment prevention. However, differences found in the areas of domestic violence and bullying suggest there may be nuances within the measure that are not reflecting Spanish-speaking parents’ experiences. Bullying may not be conceptualized by Spanish-speaking parents in the same way that it is for English-speaking parents. Given the institutional oppression faced by Hispanics, differences in experiences of discrimination were expected, but not present in the findings. This may be related to the limited ability of the ACE scale to accurately capture the experiences of Hispanic parents. For example, the scale does not capture migration stories that can be inherently traumatic for migrants who enter the country without authorization. More research is needed to understand possible limitations in measuring ACEs in Hispanic immigrant populations.