- How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact family functioning and well-being?
- What factors predict the use of harsh discipline by caregivers?
Methods: National surveys of adults over the age of 18 years were conducted in November 2021, March 2021, and July 2021 using an opt-in internet panel through yougov.com. Each survey included 3,000 adults, for an overall sample of 9,000 across the 3 surveys. Participants were asked questions regarding financial impacts of COVID-19, employment arrangements, use of governmental resources/programs, self-reported feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as use of various discipline strategies. Descriptive and multivariate analysis was conducted using SPSS.
Results: Nearly half of respondents experienced employment changes during the pandemic. Forty percent of respondents reported negative financial effects associated with the pandemic and 49% reported accessing governmental resources since the start of the pandemic. Spanking as a form of discipline was reported by 16% of respondents although a high percentage of respondents reported using positive discipline strategies with their children. Despite reporting high levels of stress during the pandemic, approximately 60% of respondents reported growing closer to their children during the pandemic. Disaggregated descriptive findings will be presented to show how the effects of COVID-19 were not equally experienced across key demographic groups (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender).
In multivariate models, intimate partner violence and parents own ACE score was associated with the use of spanking in the home. Interestingly, the more positive discipline strategies reported by a caregiver was associated with increased use of spanking.
Conclusions & Implications: From a national sample of 9,000 adults, we document the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregiving and indicators of family well-being. Further, we provide evidence for the factors associated with harsh caregiving.
Caregivers continue to experience the physical, social, and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy response to supporting families recover from the COVID-19 pandemic should focus on concrete and economic supports in the form of paid family leave (Klevens et al., 2016), tax credits (Klevens et al., 2017; Kovski et al., 2021), and childcare supports (Ha, Collins, & Martino, 2015; Maguire-Jack et al., 2019; Yang et al., 2019; Yang & Maguire-Jack, 2016), all of which have been shown to reduce abusive caregiving.