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.