Sociology, Criminology and Penology.
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies.
AdvisorSales, Bruce D.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to empirically assess the validity of legal assumptions regarding the use of physical punishment by Mexican parents with their children. Three legal assumptions were identified and tested in the studied Mexican legal framework: (1) parents always act in the best interest of their children; (2) non-severe physical punishment is an adequate and nonharmful strategy for rising children; and (3) parents discriminate between moderate/corrective punishment and severe child abuse. One hundred-fifty mothers living in the Northwestern Mexican State of Sonora were interviewed regarding their use of physical punishment with their children, their knowledge of the law regarding their and their children's' rights and duties, their perceptions of their legal obligations in regard to their disciplinary practices with their children, their disciplinary beliefs, their monitoring of their children, the frequency of maltreatment they received from their parents, their levels of depression/anxiety, their antisocial behaviors, and their alcohol consumption levels. In order to validate the legal assumptions, three structural models were specified and tested. The first model tested the assumption that physical punishment is used in the best interest of children. In this model, the perception of a legal prerogative to use physical punishment was found to increase violence against children. In contrast, parental knowledge of child and parental rights and obligations was inversely related to punitive disciplinary beliefs, while such beliefs were positively associated with child punishment and negatively associated with child monitoring. The second model estimated the effect of a history of mothers' vicitimization during childhood on their adult behavior. It was found that being maltreated as a child was associated positively with antisocial behavior and depression/anxiety, which in turn affected positively alcohol consumption and harsh parenting. The third model estimated the covariance between moderate punishment and severe punishment. Results showed that the correlation between them was higher than the factor loadings between each latent construct and their corresponding observed variables. This finding indicates that parents do not discriminate between moderate and severe punishment, invalidating the assumption that parents are aware of limits between what can be considered abuse and disciplinary punishment. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College