Understanding social and cultural differences in perceiving child maltreatment.

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Understanding social and cultural differences in perceiving child maltreatment.

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract This cross-cultural study sought to examine how parents from other parts of the world and who differ in culture, evaluate practices that are, or might be, harmful to children. The objective was to examine respondents' judgment of acceptability of the behavior, perception of severity and their attitudes toward reporting such situations. The study focused on thirteen (13) categories of child maltreatment as evaluated by parents born and raised on the African continent and parents born and/or raised in the United States. The responses of the two groups of parents were then compared and contrasted with the responses of child welfare professionals in Minnesota. This study is, in part, a replication of Giovannoni and Becerra's [Giovannoni, J., & Becerra, R. 1979 research on defining child maltreatment, Defining child abuse: New York: The Free Press]. It expands Giovannoni & Becerra's 1979 study, which examined how health and welfare professionals defined child abuse and neglect and rated the severity of specific instances of maltreatment. Participants for the study were drawn from the metropolitan area of St. Paul, Minnesota. Data for the cross-cultural study were collected by means of a self-administered vignette questionnaire that was distributed to the three key groups: parents born and raised on the African continent, parents born or raised in the U.S., and child welfare professionals in Anoka and Washington Counties in Minnesota.</DISS_para> <DISS_para>From the various findings of this study it is established that respondents' culture contributed significantly to the perceptions of child maltreatment situations. Respondents differed in their definitions, perception of seriousness and reporting potential abusive situations. Implications of the findings are discussed.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2009. Major: Social Work. Advisor:s C. David Hollister, Ph.D., Susan J. Wells, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 176 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Shanalingigwa, Oswald Abel. (2009). Understanding social and cultural differences in perceiving child maltreatment.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/54824.

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.