The phenomenon of child maltreatment in the home setting is thoroughly examined by researchers who intend to present a link between the unhealthy environment in families and the future well-being of individuals. They claim that the adverse outcomes of improper attitudes towards the offspring are generally connected to their low social-emotional competence, behavioral problems in the process of personality formation, and poor physical functioning in adulthood (Afiaz et al., 2021; Luecken et al., 2013; Archer et al., 2017). Meanwhile, alongside the similarity of findings of the studies on the subject, they also share the same gap in knowledge. For example, the adverse childhood experiences (ACE) connected with parental divorce tend to be higher among Black or Hispanic children in comparison with White children (Lee & Chen, 2017; Widom et al., 2012). Different levels of exposure to various problems among the races and ethnicities may be one of the unconsidered variables in the issue of child maltreatment. Even though people’s mental health is primarily related to the emotional climate in their families, it cannot be fully explained without examining this aspect. Therefore, this research aims to analyze the external factors involved in developing personality formation, particularly race and ethnicity.
The difference between the representatives of various population groups with regard to child abuse and its outcomes was highlighted by the studies aimed at distinguishing the consequences for them. This initiative allowed researchers to conclude the prevalence of specific issues in minorities living in similar conditions as their peers occupying a more favorable position in society (Lee & Chen, 2017; Widom et al., 2012). Alcohol abuse, more specifically binge and heavy drinking, depends on one’s racial background (Lee & Chen, 2017). In addition, poor neighborhoods are home to many young children of color (Bruner, 2017). 50% of children living beyond the poverty line are people of color (Bruner, 2017). Another study shows that levels of intimate parental violence (IPV), which conducts 15% of all reported ACEs and results in negative mental consequences for a child, tend to differ among various ethnicities (Lee & Chen, 2017). Thus, the levels of IPV conducted 22.55% in Black, 20.69% in Hispanic, and 14.28% in White families (Lee & Chen, 2017). The current socio-economic condition of the minorities is one of the reasons why a child’s ethnic basis must be taken into account in order to depict his condition fully.
However, ethnicity plays its role in forming the background of a child’s negative experience and may influence the child’s mental health and future behavior. The data of the longitudinal research conducted by Cathy Spatz Widom shows that the neglect of White, Black, and Hispanic children led to the prevalence of particular issues in each of these citizen categories (2012). For instance, 16.3% of Black neglected children are exposed to the development of dysthymia, compared with 13.8% of White and 16.7% of Hispanic children (Widom et al., 2012). At the same time, White people, who were neglected during their childhood, are most likely to be arrested after reaching adulthood and have an “increased risk for dysthymia, MDD, PTSD, ASPD”(Widom et al., 2012, 48). Black people, who experienced various ACEs in their childhood, have higher rates of current depression (18.08%) than Whites or Hispanics (Lee & Chen, 2017). Therefore, ethnicity may influence the type or severity of a given mental disorder. It is essential to consider a child’s ethnic background to analyze his predisposed conditions or what kind of mental experience he may have had.
The effect on a child’s physical health and well-being may also differ because of internal and external factors, including his race or ethnicity. Since ACEs may result in various physical conditions, starting from neurological issues and ending with long-term severe diseases, such as cancer, the link between a child’s ethnicity and possible ACE health impacts was analyzed. Thus, on the example of IPV, Mirvat Termos, Vithya Murugan, and Jesse J. Helton have discovered that “among minority women specifically, reviews of physical health consequences of IPV highlight multiple outcomes” (2021, 3). These outcomes are “gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, and neurological issues” (Termos, Murugan, & Helton 2021, 4). At the same time, White women are less likely to develop such conditions, partially due to the fact that they often have access to higher-quality medical services. Both children whose mothers experienced IPV, and women who were observers of parental IPV, show signs of negative these events’ negative impact on their physical health (Termos, Murugan, Helton, 2021). The data above provides the information which leads to a conclusion that a person’s childhood experience and their parents’ medical history may often be related to their ethnicity.
Considering the prior information, it is imperative to note that a child’s physical and mental well-being may be affected by negative childhood experiences. Many people, who were victims of mental or physical/sexual abuse, reported the deterioration of their health. Thus, among the middle-aged respondents of longitudinal research, “46% had poor physical functioning, and 33% reported poor mental health” (Archer, Pereira, & Power, 2017, 6). All discussed information leads to a conclusion that a person’s ethnic background or race must be put together with factors in order to better analyze his or her mental and physical condition.
Afiaz, A., Masud, M. S., & Mansur, M. (2021). Impact of child’s cognitive and social-emotional difficulties on child abuse: Does the mother’s justification of intimate partner violence also play a role? Child Abuse & Neglect, 117, pp. 1-17. Web.
Archer, G., Pinto Pereira, S., & Power, C. (2017). Child maltreatment as a predictor of adult physical functioning in a prospective British birth cohort. BMJ Open, 7(10), e017900. Web.
Bruner, C. (2017). ACE, place, race, and poverty: Building hope for children. Academic Pediatrics, 17(7), 123–129.
Lee, R. D., & Chen, J. (2017). Adverse childhood experiences, mental health, and excessive alcohol use: Examination of race/ethnicity and sex differences. Child Abuse & Neglect, 69, 40-48. Web.
Luecken, L. J., Roubinov, D. S., & Tanaka, R. (2013). Childhood family environment, social competence, and health across the lifespan. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(2), 171–178. Web.
Termos, M., Murugan, V., & Helton, J.H. (2021). IPV and health consequences among CPS-involved caregivers: A fixed effects analysis stratified by race and ethnicity. Violence Against Women, 1–21.
Widom, C. S., Czaja, S., Wilson, H. W., Allwood, M., & Chauhan, P. (2012). Do the long-term consequences of neglect differ for children of different races and ethnic backgrounds? Child Maltreatment, 18(1), 42–55. Web.