Ethnicity and Parental Discipline Practices: A Cross‐National Comparison Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractObjectiveExamine whether the relationship between ethnicity and parental discipline practices is consistent across contexts.BackgroundHarsh discipline has been linked to negative child behaviors and adolescent outcomes. In examining harsh discipline, scholars have observed ethnic differences.MethodsWe use the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study‐Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS‐K) for the United States and the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) for the United Kingdom. The samples include parents of children aged 7–11 years old (ECLS‐K N = 13,008, MCS N = 11,113). Using logistic regression, we model the associations between parental ethnicity and five disciplinary strategies (spanking, yelling, sending to timeout, discussing, and withdrawing privileges).ResultsBlack parents in the United States were more likely to use harsh physical discipline, whereas all ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom exhibited higher odds of using harsh physical discipline than did White parents. By contrast, Hispanic parents and parents from a general Other ethnic category were less likely to use harsh verbal discipline in the United States than White parents are, and Black and Asian parents were less likely than White parents to use harsh verbal discipline in the United Kingdom. White parents were more likely than other ethnic groups to use timeout across countries. Black and Asian parents were less likely to discuss with children in the United Kingdom; compared to White and Asian parents in the United States had lower odds of using discussion as discipline, but Hispanic parents had higher odds.ConclusionsEthnic minority parents are likely resorting to harsh physical parenting practices to socialize their children into conforming to social norms that may protect them from negative repercussions in society.


  • Silveira, Florencia
  • Shafer, Kevin
  • Dufur, Mikaela J
  • Roberson, Maia

publication date

  • June 2021