Abstract: Does Harsh Parenting Really Harm? a Systematic Review of Studies in China (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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232P Does Harsh Parenting Really Harm? a Systematic Review of Studies in China

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Yiran Zhang, MSW, PhD student, Ohio State University, OH
Ketian Zhang, Master student, University of Chicago, IL
Yuqing Yi, Social Worker, Beijing Normal University, China
Karla Shockley McCarthy, MSW, LSW, Doctoral Student and Graduate Research Associate, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Object: Harsh parenting is one of the most common experiences of children all over the world. While rearing the children, many caregivers rely on physical and psychological violent methods. According to the data from UNICEF, more than 66% of children are subject to harsh parenting in most countries. Studies have indicated that individuals exposed to harsh parenting had a higher possibility to experience health problems, mental health problems, behavior problems, and many other problems. China has a high prevalence and highly acceptable culture of harsh parenting. One study found that more than 80% of mothers and approximately 75% of fathers adopted harsh parenting. The adverse outcomes of harsh parenting do not achieve consensus in the Chinese social context. The current study aims to explore and compare the adverse outcomes of harsh parenting in the Chinese social context.

Method: A systematic search was conducted to collect articles published from 1990 to 2021. This study captured the bivariate relationship between harsh parenting and its outcome among children between 6 to 17 years old. The current review used two groups of search terms related to “harsh parenting” and “China” by consulting the following databases: APA PsycINFO, ERIC, PubMed, Social Science and Social Work Abstracts, Scopus, and Web of Science Core Collection. Then, the references list of included studies was hand-searched to identify relevant studies. Two independent reviewers conducted the titles and abstracts screening and full-text screening independently. All differences were resolved by a third reviewer. The methodological quality of cross-sectional studies was measured by the “Guidelines for evaluating prevalence studies”. The methodological quality of case-control studies and cohort studies were measured by “The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale”. Pearson’s Correlation was utilized to calculate the effect size.

Results: After the screening process, 50 studies were eligible for systematic review. All outcomes of harsh parenting were divided into four categories: health (1), psychology (23), behavior (36), and other kinds of outcomes (25). For Children’s health outcomes, one study showed that the group of children with irritable bowel syndrome has higher rates of experiencing punishment by parents than the control group. For children’s mental health, studies evidenced that harsh parenting is associated with a higher risk of depression (6), emotional regulation (3), anxiety (2), self-esteem (2), suicidal ideation (2), etc. For children’s behavior problems, studies illustrated that the outcomes of harsh parenting included aggression (13), externalizing behavior problems (9), internalizing behavior problems (4), internet addiction or abuse (3), delinquency (2), etc. Other outcomes of harsh parenting were varied, such as lower forgiveness, worse academic performance, and lower school enrollment.

Conclusion: The findings evidence the negative impacts of harsh parenting in the Chinese social context. The negative outcomes of harsh parenting are profound to the children’s development. The findings indicate the urgent need for evidence-based policy and practice to prevent harsh parenting. Moreover, the findings also illustrate the limited understanding of the relationship between harsh parenting and children’s physical health. Future research should focus on the health outcomes of harsh parenting.