Attitudes and beliefs about corporal punishment among inner city homeless parents : a qualitative narrative study
Despite the large body of research on the harmful effects and ineffectiveness of corporal punishment (CP), it is a common and socially acceptable method of child discipline in the United States. Parents are most likely to use CP when experiencing one or more stressors or lack social supports; one group of parents that suffers from multiple stressors and lacks social support is homeless parents. A qualitative, narrative study was conducted to explore the attitudes and beliefs of homeless parents regarding the use of CP, their opinions about the No-Hit policy at the shelter where they live, and what types of help or support they believed the shelter could provide for them. Data were collected from 18 homeless parents (n = 14 mothers; n = 4 fathers), age twenty to fifty-seven years, living in a shelter in a large Midwestern urban area. Results yielded five themes: (1) substantial participant experiences of childhood physical and emotional trauma; (2) clear conceptual definitions of and reasons for hitting children; (3) participant perspectives on interventions and policies related to corporal punishment; (4) strong family, community, religious and cultural influences on participant beliefs about hitting children; and (5) financial help from the shelter and help with housing is a main priority need expressed by participants. Findings present important implications for the development of more culturally sensitive and trauma-informed educational strategies, practices and policies for families and children impacted by poverty and violence.
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