This study used the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study to examine the effects of repeated exposure to harsh parenting on child externalizing behavior across the first decade of life, and a moderating role for cumulative ecological risk. Maternal report of harsh parenting, defined as high frequency spanking, was assessed at age 1, 3, 5, and 9, along with child externalizing at age 9 (N=2,768). Controlling for gender, race, maternal nativity, and city of residence, we found a cumulative risk index to significantly moderate the effects of repeated harsh parenting on child behavior, with the effects of repeated high-frequency spanking being amplified for those experiencing greater levels of cumulative risk. Harsh parenting, in the form of high frequency spanking, remains a too common experience for children, and results demonstrate that the effects of repeated exposure to harsh parenting across the first decade are amplified for those children already facing the most burden.
Keywords: Aggression; Cumulative risk; Externalizing behavior; Harsh parenting; Rule-breaking; Spanking.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.