Negative caregiver strategies and psychopathology in urban, African-American young adults

Amy L. Koenig, Nicholas Ialongo, Barry M. Wagner, Jeanne Poduska, Sheppard Kellam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: There were three aims: (1) assess the prevalence of reported exposure to negative caregiver strategies in a community-based African-American population, (2) examine the sources of variation in caregiver parenting strategies, including demographic variables and child characteristics, (3) investigate whether mental disorders in young adulthood may differ based on reported degree of exposure to negative strategies. Method: The participants were 1197 African-Americans involved in a 1999-2001 young adult follow-up (age M=19.6, SD=.6) of an evaluation of school-based interventions in the Baltimore, MD metropolitan area. Measures included teacher-report of child aggression in first grade, parent-report of demographic variables in first and sixth grade, and young adult self-report of symptomatology, suicidal behaviors, and childhood caregiver discipline strategies. Results: Fifty-four percent of the sample reported some use of physical discipline by caregivers. Lower family income and younger caregiver age, as well as teacher reports of child aggression, were related to reports of caregiver's high use of negative strategies. In addition, young adults who reported a high rate of negative caregiver strategies had a significantly increased risk for psychopathology and were over twice as likely to have experienced a history of suicidal ideation than those reporting low exposure. Conclusions: The results demonstrate the importance of examining variation in this population, with the poorest and the youngest using negative parenting strategies more frequently. In addition, the present study replicated previous findings of the link between negative caregiver discipline strategies and psychopathology. This association appears robust across diverse populations. The implications for preventive interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1233
Number of pages23
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Adult psychopathology
  • Negative caregiver strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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