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September 2022Vol. 23, No. 7Brief Explores Tie Between Economic Hardship and Child Abuse in AAPI Families

A recent article in the International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice, "Child Maltreatment in Asian American and Pacific Islander Families: The Roles of Economic Hardship and Parental Aggravation," examines the relationship between economic hardship and parental aggravation and child maltreatment among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) families. (Parental aggravation is a caregiver's perceptions and experiences of strain and intolerance toward caring for a child.)


The study explored three types of child maltreatment—physical assault, psychological aggression, and neglect—in a sample of 146 AAPI children. To measure the occurrence of maltreatment, the researchers asked participants whether (1) they used punishments such as spanking, pinching, shaking, slapping, and hitting with a hard object in order to determine the presence of physical aggression; (2) whether they shouted, yelled, or screamed at their child or threatened to spank them (but did not actually do so) in order to determine the presence of psychological aggression; and (3) they neglected their child's basic need for food, shelter, medical care, education, and proper supervision in order to determine the presence of neglect.


Findings demonstrated that economic hardship was positively associated with psychological aggression and physical assault, while aggravation in parenting was positively associated with neglect. This suggests that AAPI parents are more likely to use certain forms of child maltreatment when they experience specific stressors, according to the study.  The findings are in line with other research demonstrating economic hardship increases family stress, which can lead to harsh parenting and child maltreatment. In addition, parenting is a constant responsibility, and when parents become stressed, they may have difficulty performing parenting activities and display negative attitudes toward their children.


The study notes that child maltreatment in the AAPI community is relatively understudied compared with other racial and ethnic groups and that more research is needed about parental stress contributing to maltreatment, specifically among AAPI families.


For more information, read the full research article, “Child Maltreatment in Asian American and Pacific Islander Families: The Roles of Economic Hardship and Parental Aggravation.”