Corporal punishment in families of Mexican-origin: the role of Acculturation and Respeto



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Texas Tech University


Corporal punishment (CP) is a widely used discipline technique in the United States. Most of what we know regarding corporal punishment is based on Caucasian families. In contrast, there is a paucity of research investigating predictors and outcomes of CP with families of Mexican-origin who are the largest and fastest growing Hispanic subgroup (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). This study examined level of acculturation and belief in respect toward authority (respeto) as predictors of CP among mothers of Mexican-origin. This study also examined the association between CP and child externalizing behavior problems. A community sample of 83 mothers of Mexican-origin with children between the ages of 3 to 8 participated in the study. A series of regression analyses were conducted to test the hypotheses. After controlling for parent and child demographic variables, mothers’ level of acculturation was not a significant predictor of CP. Also contrary to predictions, mothers with higher levels of acculturation who were more oriented toward Anglo culture reported a higher belief in respeto. The hypothesis that respeto would be a significant predictor of CP was not supported. Lastly, as predicted, mothers’ use of CP significantly predicted externalizing behavior problems in that children disciplined with CP had higher rates of behavior problems. The results of this study indicate that other cultural factors besides acculturation and belief in respeto may influence use of CP among mothers of Mexican-origin. This study supported previous findings with non-Hispanic samples that found a positive relationship between CP and behavior problems. Future research should examine other possible predictors of CP, replicate with fathers, and include other Hispanic subgroups. Results will be discussed within the context of future research and clinical implications.