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Assessing Parenting Behaviors Across Racial Groups Lawrence M. Berger Christina Paxson Center for Health and Wellbeing Princeton University prepared for Fragile Families workshop Columbia University July 2004. In-home addition to Fragile Families.
Lawrence M. Berger
Center for Health and Wellbeing
prepared for Fragile Families workshop
Why is this topic of interest?
There is an active debate over the source of the disparity in official maltreatment rates. Potential explanations include:
Racial bias refers to a racial double standard, such that otherwise identical families of different races are assessed differently by reporters of maltreatment or by the social workers, judges, etc. who verify the validity of reports of maltreatment.
There are several reasons in theory why racial bias in reporting and substantiation might be observed:
parenting among some groups, and observe what they
expect to see. (Could be driven by genuine differences
in average behaviors in the population.)
interpret information from members of some groups.
Assessments may not be systematically biased, but
may be more error-ridden (so more chance that an
extreme value is “observed.”
Our data are drawn from an in-home module of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCW). This contains self-reported and interviewer-observed parenting measures.
Data are available for 20 cities from the 36-month interview.
Our sample consists of 1,149 blacks and 367 whites. All completed the full in-home module, and had interviewers for whom race was known.
(1) absence of nonviolent discipline;
is wrong, gave something else to do, etc.
at child; threatened to hit; threatened to kick out of house
Examples: Spanked, slapped, hit on bottom with object; pinched; shook.
Parent did not shout at child
Parent did not express annoyance with or hostility toward child.
Parent neither slapped nor spanked child during the visit.
Parent did not scold or criticize child during visit.
Parent did not interfere or restrict child more than 3 times.
Parent spontaneously vocalized to child twice.
Parent responded verbally to child’s vocalizations.
Parent told child the name of an object or person during visit
Parent spontaneously praised child at least twice.
Parent's voice conveys positive feelings toward child.
Parent caressed or kissed child at least once.
Parent's speech was distinct and audible.
Parent initiated verbal exchanges with visitor.
Parent conversed freely and easily.
Respondent’s attention to interview (coded 0-3)
Respondent’s understanding of questions (coded 0-3)
Respondent’s ability to articulate answers (coded 0-3)
Respondent’s level of cooperation (coded 0-3)
To be on drugs?
(Each on 3 point scale)
Child’s clothes dirty, ill-fitting, or inappropriate for season
Child appears to be recently bathed
Child’s hair is combed and clean
Items (each scored 0-3)
Displays of negative emotions during interview
Displays of positive emotions during interview
Cooperation during PPVT
Cooperation during height and weight measurement
Persistence during PPVT
Note: All sociodemographic and maternal controls included.
Test for bias: (MB/IW – MW/IW) = (MB/IB - MW/IB)
Or: ( 0.066 – 0 ) – (-0.007 – 0.023) = 0
Or: 0.096 = 0 (p-value for test is 0.013).
Test for bias: p-value=0.550 (hypothesis of no racial bias cannot be rejected.)
Test for bias: p-value is 0.002