First-Generation Immigrant Mothers Report Less Spanking of 1-Year-Old Children Compared with Mothers of Other Immigrant Generations

  • Maya I. RagavanEmail author
  • Kevin Griffith
  • Megan Bair-Merritt
  • Howard J. Cabral
  • Caroline J. Kistin


Introduction The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages spanking, especially of infants and young toddlers. This study examines the association between maternal immigrant generation and reported spanking of 1-year-old children, and whether this association is impacted by domestic violence (DV). Methods We conducted a cross-sectional secondary data analysis using 1-year wave data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. We used descriptive statistics to explore demographic differences among first-generation, second-generation, and third-generation or higher (reference group) mothers. We conducted logistic regression to examine the association between immigrant generation and spanking, controlling for covariates. We used stratified logistic regression to evaluate how experiencing DV may impact the association between immigrant generation and spanking. Results The study included 370 first-generation mothers, 165 second-generation mothers, and 1754 reference group mothers. The prevalence of spanking differed across immigrant generations (p = 0.004). First-generation mothers had statistically significant lower odds of spanking compared with the reference group (adjusted OR 0.26; CI 0.11–0.64). Second-generation mothers also had lower odds of spanking compared with the reference group, although this result did not reach statistical significance (adjusted OR 0.60; CI 0.22–1.63). Mothers’ report of experiencing DV appeared to impact the relationship between immigrant generation and spanking. Discussion First-generation immigrant mothers had lower odds of reported spanking compared to reference group mothers, an association which is attenuated for both second-generation immigrant mothers and mothers who have experienced DV. Future work should explore the potential factors that drive variations in spanking between immigrant generations.


Spanking Immigrant Domestic violence Secondary data analysis 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsBoston Medical CenterBostonUSA
  2. 2.Boston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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