Culture-specific views of child maltreatment and parenting styles in a pacific-island community

Ann Futterman Collier, Faith H. McClure, Jay Collier, Caleb Otto, Anthony Polloi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective: Providing culturally sensitive definitions of child abuse is difficult as perceptions of what constitutes abuse can vary around the world. This study was undertaken to assess how teachers in the Republic of Palau perceived the severity of potentially abusive incidents and what types of recommendations, if any, they would have for situations judged as severely abusive. Attitudes about child rearing practices were also evaluated. Methods: Teachers (n = 141) were given: (1) a questionnaire consisting of 25 vignettes describing parent/child interactions that were potentially abusive and asked to rate the severity of abuse and recommended interventions for each vignette; and (2) a 40-item parenting styles questionnaires to evaluate attitudes about child-rearing practices. Results: Teachers identified and recommended interventions for more severe forms of abuse at rates similar to other international samples. For less severe parental misconduct, teachers were reluctant to involve nonfamily and outside agencies. Sexual abuse was rated as the most serious type of abuse and when identified, intervention was highly recommended. Some traditional Palauan parenting practices that might be considered maltreatment by other cultures were not considered abusive. For parenting styles, older individuals were more likely to use guilt induction and less likely to use methods of acceptance. Aggressive parenting styles were negatively correlated with all forms of abuse, suggesting that teachers who used aggressive disciplinary styles were less likely to perceive abusive situations as harmful. Conclusions: These results indicate that cultural values and practices play important roles in shaping the definition and interpretation of child maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-244
Number of pages16
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999


  • Child abuse
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Pacific Islanders
  • Parenting styles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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