Sian Williams Janet Brown Jaipaul Roopnarine

for The Learning Community Programme 2006 of the Caribbean Child Support Initiative
Supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation



The Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CCSI) serves as “an intermediary resource programme [to] bring people and resources together to enhance Early Childhood Development capacity and knowledge in the sub-region”1. The initiative bridges the financial and technical resources of the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) in The Hague with those of the Caribbean, with particular interest in strengthening the care environment for young children and their parents and other caregivers. During 2004 CCSI engaged various partners and research agencies within the Caribbean region to identify needs for research on childrearing and socialization to inform effective interventions with parents. As part of this dialogue, CCSI commissioned a review of the literature from within and about the region to see what researchers had addressed in relation to the following questions:
• • •

What is it that parents in the region actually do to raise their children? How or what are children in fact learning in their family environments? How can interventions be informed by the strengths children and parents have, their coping strategies and their environmental adjustments and resilience as well as by what they are not doing?

The preliminary literature review prepared by Sian Williams and Janet Brown was considered at a meeting of Caribbean researchers in Jamaica in December 2005. The researchers confirmed what the literature review identified:
• • •

research on childrearing and socialisation in the Caribbean is thin; the bulk of the research found has been done in Jamaica; research which has documented what parents actually do in their childrearing practices and what actual beliefs inform these practices does not appear to exist.

A second review was commissioned by Jaipaul Roopnarine to more specifically examine and compare child-rearing practices within different subcultures in the Caribbean.


The outcomes of these two reviews informed CCSI plans for a gathering of researchers to focus on the findings of the literature reviews and current research activities on aspects of Caribbean child-rearing practices. In May 2006 in Roseau, Dominica, seventeen researchers--9 based in the Caribbean and 8 elsewhere--met with CCSI and BvLF staff members to do just that, and to point out implications of the work for policy, programmes and further research. The meeting of researchers stimulated rich exchanges about fathering and mothering roles in Caribbean contexts here and elsewhere, cultural differences in parenting practices, social-emotional development within the family and outcomes from early home and preschool settings. A summary report of the meeting is available from CCSI (visit CCSI’s website: for more information). This booklet contains the two commissioned reviews of the Caribbean research literature on this broad topic, and a summary of the research methods represented within these reviews, noting some implications for the studies’ validity, replicability, applicability, etc. The booklet is intended to support the work of other researchers, university and other level students of early childhood development and the family within the Caribbean, and readers within the general public interested in the evidence garnered on a range of topics related to young children from work within and about the region. The importance of under-girding government policies as well as government and non-government interventions with evidence garnered from sound research was strongly reinforced at this meeting. The Caribbean Child Support Initiative subsequently obtained a commitment from the Bernard van Leer Foundation to support at least four annual gatherings of this nature starting in 2008 in order to promote more current research in areas about which too little is known, and to continue to use the evidence from regional studies to inform its programmes and activities. CCSI will publish reports of the meetings, policy briefs, and relevant public education materials which emerge from this focus on sound regional research. Susan Branker-Lashley Programme Director Caribbean Child Support Initiative


CCSI wishes to thank all the research colleagues who critically read initial drafts of this literature review and provided additional references:
Patricia Anderson Janet Brown Hyacinth Evans Christine Powell Heather Ricketts Maureen Samms-Vaughan Marigold Thorburn Sian Williams

Rose Davies

Jaipaul Roopnarine The Authors Sian Williams MEd. Early Childhood Services Manager in the UK until 1993 and since that date Consultant and Researcher in ECD in the Caribbean. UNICEF's Caribbean Early Childhood Development Adviser since 2006. Janet Brown, M.S.W. Consultant in early child development and parenting. Head of the Caribbean Child Development Centre of the University of the West Indies from 1984 to 2004. Co-founder of Parenting Partners Caribbean. Jaipaul Roopnarine, Ph.D. Professor of Child Development, Department of Child and Family Studies, Syracuse University. Research includes parent-infant interactions in Caribbean immigrant families in the United States and elsewhere. Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of the West Indies, St Augustine 2007. The Artist Aeron Cargill graduated with honors from the University of the West Indies in 2007 with a BA in Visual Arts. He has won awards in traditional pencil portraiture, a national award in Photography, and received the highest grade in the Caribbean in the 2001 CXC exams for Visual Arts Special thanks to Lorraine Walker Mendez for assisting with publication layout tasks.


Table of Contents


1. Childrearing and Socialisation of Young Children in the Caribbean (birth to eight years of age)
Sian Williams, Janet Brown Introduction Section 1: Nurturance, play and early learning Section 2: Gender and child development Section 3: Health and nutrition Section 4: Discipline practices Section 5: Vulnerable children Section 6: Methodologies 6 8 32 48 59 74 91

2. Cultural Bases of Childrearing and Socialization in African Caribbean and Indo Caribbean Families
Jaipaul L. Roopnarine



Childrearing and Socialisation of Young Children in the Caribbean (birth to eight years of age)
Sian Williams and Janet Brown INTRODUCTION The purpose of this review was to discover the extent of the coverage of the research on childrearing and socialization of young children in the Caribbean and to reflect on the findings. One of the triggers for the review was the lack of understanding of what it is that parents in the region actually do to raise their children. The concern expressed by parent educators is that the basis for interventions is not informed by local or regional research on actual childrearing practices. For example, philosophies about the importance of play in child development are “imported” and not counterbalanced, informed or mediated by how or what children are in fact learning in their family environments, through play or otherwise. A meeting in December 2005 of Caribbean researchers based in Jamaica provided critical comment on a preliminary literature review and suggested additional material for inclusion such as studies on older children where the findings could inform research approaches with younger children and the potential for longitudinal studies. Communications with researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States provided insights into research findings and methodologies used elsewhere in the world for our consideration. We recognised that the balance of the literature we have reviewed is skewed to Jamaica as we have not received many studies from elsewhere in the Caribbean. Thus this collection of Caribbean studies remains a ‘work in progress’, calling for ongoing revision.


This review, and the one which follows by Jaipaul Roopnarine, were prepared initially to inform a May 2006 gathering of researchers from the Caribbean and elsewhere, persons who are engaged in research in childrearing and socialization, to exchange experiences and suggest next steps for research in the region. This researchers’ dialogue aimed to: • reflect on what has been learned within the region on which to build; • provide an opportunity to reflect on the findings and methodologies used in research elsewhere that might inform studies in the Caribbean; • identify research ‘gaps’ in the Caribbean and potential lines of questioning; • apply a pragmatic focus in identifying priorities and directions arising for future research, e.g.
⇒ Have the studies that have been done in the region

given us a sound enough basis for interventions with parents? If not, what are the limitations? ⇒ How can the findings from research inform practice? ⇒ What must we find out to better inform responses? How? Where? ⇒ Do we need to study what parents/primary care-givers actually do to rear their children? If so, how can we do that? Where? What are the approaches - their potentials and limitations? It is hoped that readers of this booklet will continue to ask these important questions, and others noted at the end of each section, while reading and when preparing to examine for themselves aspects of the multiple cultures of child-rearing practices within the Caribbean.



The concept of nurturance(2) refers to practices that promote positive parent-child interaction, emotional support, parental encouragement of a child’s intellectual curiosity and reflection, as well as their approval of children’s emotional expression. It has a wider application to positive discipline practices, and this is explored in the fourth section below. For the purposes of this first section, nurturance is linked with stimulation and includes studies that have sought to describe both processes in the childrearing practices of parents in the Caribbean region. This review sought out studies that describe what parents actually do. We found research providing important insights into childrearing practices and developmental outcomes for children, but which


acknowledged methodological limitations in identifying what parents were actually doing. The seminal work of Grantham-McGregor et al among 75 families with children between 31 and 60 months in poor surburban Jamaica, revealed children experiencing a rich social life and authoritarian discipline, with little conscious encouragement of play or verbal interaction (1). The methodology combined questionnaires for 75 parents designed to document child-rearing habits and attitudes, with developmental assessments of 45 children. The questions parents were asked were generally open ended. Although children had some toys, and some children had books, there were very few educational toys in these homes and parents did not recognize their educational value. Few parents played with their children, except during cooking when many would give children a little dough to play with. Outdoor and romping games were played with children, but teaching and reading to children were infrequently mentioned. Parents when asked directly said that they did teach their children school-related subjects (although these were frequently inappropriate to the child’s level of development) and 20% of the parents said they enjoyed reading to their children. The researchers tried to get an idea of the amount of verbal interaction between mother and children and asked mothers about the questions their children asked and how many of them they answered. The majority of mothers indicated that they tried to answer questions, or most questions; but 40% indicated that they only attempted to answer a few. The children were not being raised with daily routines, with specific bed times or regular meals eaten together as a family. However, the researchers noted the close ties that children developed with adults, usually women, in addition to their parents, living and playing in densely populated homes and ‘yards’. Whilst there was little attempt to consciously promote cognitive development, the children were stimulated by a rich social life including a variety of routine trips, such as errands and visits in their neighbourhoods. The children’s level of development was related to levels of stimulation in the home.


Grantham-McGregor notes that it is perhaps “incongruous” to expect much emphasis to be put on stimulation activities amongst families who are so poor. To what extent the features of childrearing identified reflected poor physical conditions, poor education of parents or custom and practice is not clear. Indeed the authors conclude that “many of our findings can be explained by urbanization and poverty”. The lack of routines can in part be explained by the poor physical conditions, and is a finding similar to that in studies of poor families in other parts of the world. The authors cite Levine (1977) who hypothesized that in Africa a clear priority of the parents was to teach survival techniques and once these were assured, “the main focus was to produce obedient children”. This discussion of childrearing practices (1) as symptomatic in part of poverty and environmental factors is very important. It begs the question, “What can we realistically expect?” It is hardly surprising that parents expressed a high degree of support for preschooling and infant schooling for their children. “Success at school is one way children may achieve social and economic progress in presentday Jamaica”. The formality of the parents’ attempts to teach their children was noted. “The mothers’ ignorance of the appropriate subjects to teach preschool children in preparation for school, makes it unlikely that their efforts would be successful”. This is an area explored in other research on the quality of learning environments discussed below. This discussion also cautions us to examine every factor impacting on a parent’s capacity to rear a child, and not to arrive at a hasty conclusion that serves to diminish the significance of poverty and environment relative to the importance of other factors such as religious belief, cultural norms, history and gender. The authors cite the work of Levine (1980) in this regard: “ Each culture contains an adaptive formula for parenthood, a set of customs evolved historically in response to the most prominent hazards in the locally experienced environment of parents…also they are designed to maximize positive cultural ideas in the next generation” [our emphasis]


«­» The importance of beliefs and attitudes of parents for childrearing was explored in a study in Barbados with 628 parents using a parental self-report instrument, the Block Child rearing practices report (2). It aimed to assess child rearing beliefs and attitudes quantitatively in order to explain lifestyle patterns and socialisation processes from a more psychological perspective. Findings for nurturance scores suggested that parents were generally less likely to strongly endorse parenting practices relating to support of intellectual curiosity than those relating to physical or emotional nurturance. “This seems to appropriately reflect the concerns of regional educators that contemporary Caribbean society stresses the importance of educational achievement, but does not foster intellectual independence and creativity”. The data suggest class differences in levels of parental affection and interest. While some of the items on the instrument were poorly worded, only one was recorded as having a substantial number of “missing” responses. This item concerned parents talking to their children about sex, and because many seemed unwilling to admit having difficulty in this area, the authors suggest that it is a crucial issue for further study. [Findings in this study for restrictiveness (endorsement of practices designed to control how children behave) are discussed in section 4 below]. «­» Roopnarine (17) draws on his own and others’ work to describe the Indo-Caribbean families of Trinidad and Guyana as engaging in more “collectivistic childrearing tendencies”, i.e. focusing on interpersonal harmony, interdependence, and respect for elders. Practices with very young children are described as “relaxed and indulgent”, with few feeding and sleeping routines. In other ways, such as the practice of corporal punishment and in the gender differences in direct caring for and protection of children, the African Caribbean and the Indian Caribbean parents are similar.


In a cross-cultural review of early childhood education research (18) Roopnarine cites LeVine in cautioning against population level generalisations about how different groups view appropriate and inappropriate child behaviours, as well as timetables of expected child development milestones. For example, criteria for assessing an “intelligent” child and a “competent” child vary within societies as well as between them, and therefore parental behaviours to elicit desired outcomes may be driven by different meanings in different contexts of social class, family structure, ethnicity, etc. A crosscultural example of this was given between “low income, Africanand Indo-Caribbean parents [who] see ‘good children’ as academically competent, cooperative, respectful, compliant, and obedient”. In Japanese studies of middle-class suburban parents, ‘good children’ were seen as those who ‘displayed their thoughts honestly’, were able to ‘maintain interpersonal harmony’, and worked well with others in ‘expressing and building the self’. In many of the Western developed societies, assertiveness and independence are values encouraged in children. While these are generalisations made in comparing broad societies, there are within Caribbean societies parents of differing class, ethnicity, education level and gender who would identify more with the values of the Japanese or Western parents than the Caribbean values cited above (18, p. 10 citing other studies). «­» Evans reviews studies up to 1989 on the socialisation of the working class Jamaican child(3). The respective methodologies are not described and therefore it is not known how the studies compare in terms of rigour or range. However, there are a number of factors influencing the socialisation of the young child that are suggested for consideration. The vast majority of Jamaican children are from low income groups. The impact of poverty can be felt in the restricted space in the family home or yard. Evans draws on British research demonstrating the importance of space for developing an identity and social skills. Very few children have parents who read to them; limited play or reading materials are in the home and very few


educational toys such as puzzles and playing blocks(3a). There is lack of systematic supervision of children or routine in homes where parents are absent or leave early for work (3b), and children are often late to school/play truant in these circumstances. Evans refers to international studies demonstrating the impact of parental exhaustion and stress on family functioning and child rearing. Physical and social circumstances can influence child-rearing techniques and parent-child interaction – they make up what is understood as the “social ecology” or the context of childrearing that can shape and influence socialisation. Evans identifies the following characteristics of parent-child interaction, many echoing earlier findings (1): • • • • Children receive a great deal of affection up to the age of about 5 (3a). Little family time is spent together such as meal times (3a, b and c), affecting verbal interaction and language development. Even when adults are present, very little effort is made to engage children in talk (3d). There is a lack of specific goals for child development apparent in limited attempts to praise or give positive guidance and direction to children (3a, e, f) or rewards (3a), but instead an apparent tendency to react to the child’s misbehaviour with threats, anger, etc. (see section 4 below).

Evans explores what is known of the beliefs and attitudes influencing child-rearing practices: • • • Children are highly valued by all in the society (3a, f, g). Children should obey their parents (3a). Little value is given to play as beneficial for children’s development (3a). Evans suggests this could explain in part the absence of toys in the home.


In examining the effects of the physical/social setting, parentchild interaction and parental values and beliefs on the socialisation of the child, Evans draws on research indicating links to limited vocabulary of 4 year olds(3d), lack of personal/social responsiveness and conceptual development(3h) and lack of independence and imagination(3i). These findings are echoed, and in part fleshed out, by subsequent researchers. Barrow’s recent examination via focus groups and survey questionnaires in Dominica and Trinidad (15) provides qualitative information on attitudes and values in relation to parenting, and observes that the tradition of community cohesion and mutual support goes some distance in providing a network of support and concern around families of young children. Familiar patterns of child rearing elsewhere in the Caribbean (e.g. the treatment of children as parental property, the administration of harsh discipline, the belief that some children are “born bad” and cannot be corrected) appear still to be prevalent although the study also suggested there was evidence of change and development. “The good child” in both geographic contexts is described as well behaved, mannerly, obedient, helpful. If children are too active or curious, independent or assertive, they are seen as behaving badly, as “troublesome”. Barrow subsequently sent a team back to selected families within the same communities for a more in-depth ethnographic look at child-rearing practices and how parents actually see children in greater detail. The team sought to observe communication and interaction patterns between children and their caregivers and assess the influence of the immediate environment(s) on child-rearing practices, with the overall goal of understanding local ideological and cultural constructs of “the child” and “childhood”. The full report of this work is available from CCSI (see CCSI website: «­»


Roopnarine (17) cites Handwerker’s Barbados study of 1996 (18) in describing parent-child displays of affection: 58% of boys and 57% of girls [age not cited] were hugged and touched by their mothers regularly or “all the time”, while fewer received similar affection from their fathers (24% boys, 33% girls); Leo-Rhynie’s work (8) had only 23.6% of Jamaican parents praising children for approved behaviour, reflecting similar upbringing by their parents. Roopnarine, in writing of Caribbean immigrant families in the United States (4) echoes the finding that parents believe that their children should obey them and expands this to include the belief that children should care for their ageing parents. He notes that whilst this belief may be prevalent in the Caribbean today, it is changing amongst higher-educated first generation children of immigrants. Beliefs and values that stem from deeply-held religious beliefs (Indian-Caribbean and African-Caribbean), ethnic differences, personal and community histories, do influence childrearing, but precisely how is not identified. Parents draw more readily on folk theories and practices handed down through the generations rather than the advice and guidance of experts and community agencies (5). «­» Children experience multiple caregivers(6) – mother, father and additional caregivers (family member, early childhood worker, etc.) in the course of a day. Little is known about the impact on children of “child shifting”, the experience of having new principal caregivers at different points in childhood, and the adjustments children make to different emotional and childrearing landscapes. The incidence of child shifting has been looked at in a special module attached to the annual Survey of Living Conditions in Jamaica, and it appears to be more a phenomenon with older children than with children in their early years. This finding is echoed in the Profiles Project findings (9).


«­» Children’s play in the Caribbean is little understood and underresearched (7). It is observed that parents and early childhood teachers seem “largely unaware of the possibilities of play being beneficial to early childhood development or to the early childhood curricula”(8), but there is no clear idea of what constitutes children’s play in the Caribbean, or what meanings children ascribe to what they do. Related research (12, 13) identified the importance for child development of the provision of a safe, healthy, caring and stimulating home environment, basic learning resources (domestic items used as toys, specially made toys) and an adult carer and “educator” who is prepared/able to read to the child each day and in time listen to the child read to him or her. One research intervention provided a home visitor who met with parents in their homes and demonstrated effective child development and care techniques. The features of this successful home visiting programme as measured by the beneficial outcomes for children are as follows: ▪ The visits by a home visitor to the home of a very young child were made regularly, lasted between half an hour and an hour in duration, and offered consistent support for at least the first year of the child’s life, and thereafter as needed. [A weekly planned visit is best, but findings showed that even when visits occurred at 10/11 day intervals, the outcomes were beneficial for children) The home visitors have at least secondary education, a background in practical nursing/early childhood education and experience of working with young families in clinics or other settings (such as early childhood centres, community based organizations, faith based organizations). The roles of the community health workers/ aides had been expanded with training to include the additional duties as home visitors. Training provided over two weeks accompanied by a curriculum manual of ideas and activities was sufficient to “re-tool” the experienced community health workers/aides to undertake the task. There were clear advantages in integrating the child development/home visiting functions into existing roles of community health workers/


aides, as these workers have existing credibility and standing within the community. A clear focus on working with the parent or primary caregiver to develop his or her understanding of child development and skills in providing care and stimulating activities for the child. Parenting issues are discussed, practices demonstrated and advice given on health, nutrition and stimulation of the children. The use of home made toys, books and materials in the home served to optimize the use of the natural environment as a play and learning resource and keep the costs of the home visiting programmes down. The estimated cost of a home visitor’s “kit” includes the tools needed to make items as well as useful equipment such as a tape recorder for playing songs and story tapes. Toys, learning materials and cassette tapes are left in the homes each week and exchanged for new ones at each visit. The Manager or supervisor of the programme monitors each visitor conducting a home visit on a monthly basis.

Home visits were found to be more effective than arranging parents’ groups at health centres as parents did not attend frequently enough for many reasons (care of other children, expense, transportation). An important aspect of the research process described (12, 13) is that a range of instruments were used to measure children’s development before the intervention began and at regular intervals over sixteen to seventeen years to measure the benefits over time. These instruments need to be used by persons who are specially trained in conditions that can be rigorously supervised. «­» The first comprehensive longitudinal study to “profile” the status of children and their learning environments was undertaken with a national sample of children (0.5% of the population of 5-6 year olds) in Jamaica from 1999-2003(9). The immediate reason for the study was the concern about grade repetition and primary school failure and the recognition that there was a lack of information on the preschool child – health, upbringing and learning capacities. Measurements of social-economic status, health, anthropometry exposure to violence, family functioning, parental mental health, parental stress,


academic achievement and cognitive function, behaviour problems and behaviour strengths were combined with measures of the home and school learning environments. The main findings as regards the home and parenting practices were as follows: ▪ ▪ Jamaican six year olds had a very stable physical environment. Three quarters lived in homes owned by a close family member and 70 percent had lived in only one home all their lives. Though there was wide variation in the physical status of homes within different parishes and socio-economic groups. The majority of children (more than two-thirds) did not have modern toilet and water facilities. In contrast, more than 80 percent of homes had electronic media available in the form of television and radio. Access to transportation and to primary schools was good, with 99 and 89 per cent respectively, living within two miles walking distance of these facilities. Health centres were less accessible, with 70 percent of children living within two miles walking distance of a health centre. As expected in a developing country, the major wage earner was employed in a skilled or semi-skilled occupation in the majority of cases (54 per cent). Ten percent of children lived in homes where the household head was not employed by virtue of being unemployed, a pensioner or a homemaker. Jamaican children lived in relatively large families, with the average number of siblings on the maternal side being three. In these young families, the six-year old was most likely to be the first or second child for their mother. Jamaican families functioned [in terms of adaptability and family cohesion on a scale ranging from “extreme” to “balanced”] similarly to American families, with the majority of families functioning in the “mid-range” or “balanced” categories. Only 11 percent of families were identified as “extreme”. In contrast, Jamaican parents, chiefly mothers, experienced a much greater level of parenting-related stress than did American parents. Forty-five percent of Jamaican parents had levels of parental stress above the 85th percentile

▪ ▪ ▪


▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

compared with 37 per cent of American parents. Parenting stress was experienced at all social class levels, but increased with the age of the pre-school child. Parental mental health problems were also similar across the Jamaican social classes. The most common leisure activity for Jamaican six year olds was watching television, enjoyed by over 80 per cent. A large proportion (three quarters) also read books at some time, but the frequency of reading or looking at books over a month was low. Girls and children of the higher social classes read more frequently. There was little parental involvement in either the watching of television or reading books. Half of the children were involved in organised leisure activities, with boys more involved in sports and girls more involved in hobbies. Three quarters of children attended church fairly regularly, with the majority attending the Evangelical, Pentecostal and Seventh Day Adventist churches. At this early age, girls were already socialised to perform chores more so than boys. Less privileged children also performed more chores. Homes had relatively little physical material to stimulate children’s development or encourage appropriate play. Emotionally, homes also lacked appropriate parent-child interaction to encourage emotional development. This was particularly true of the homes of the disadvantaged. The only aspect of the home environments that was similar across the social classes was the parental attitude to discipline. American families were more accepting of children and used less harsh disciplinary measures than Jamaican families. This was confirmed by the disciplinary index which reported on measures of discipline used within the home in the week prior to the survey. Similar discipline was administered to children of all social classes and both genders.

The above findings from the Profiles Project in Jamaica demonstrate what makes the difference for children’s outcomes in early childhood. Of 19 indicators identified, 5 are the most significant: socioeconomic status, parental education, parental stress, reading books and early childhood experience. Of these, the first three directly impact on child


rearing practices and the fourth and fifth require parental support. The study demonstrated that the relationship of these five indicators with school achievement and cognitive function at the Grade 1 level was stronger than at the pre-school level suggesting that the negative impact of these factors worsens over time. «­» We have seen (above) from longitudinal studies over 17 years (12,13) the impact of interventions in the home with children under the age of 3 years to improve parenting practices through education, demonstration and regular encouragement. Sustainable and significant benefits are achievable particularly by poor children whose psychomotor development had been in jeopardy. The importance of these studies is that they have shown that the interventions that work in the home are those that address parenting practices directly. Findings from the follow up at 11-12 years old of an urban subsample of a national birth cohort of 1986-87 (20) bear out the significant and sustainable benefits of early childhood development interventions. The children in this study form a geographical subgroup of a national birth cohort of 10,000 children identified during the Jamaican Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity Study 1986-87 (10). The birth cohort comprised all children born in the months of September and October 1986 (n=10,500) and the first follow-up study included all cohort children resident or attending school in the two most urban parishes in Jamaica: Kingston and St. Andrew. «­» The main findings of the Profiles Project as regards the quality of the learning environments in schools were broadly the same as the findings in national surveys using the same scale in pre-schools in six other Caribbean countries. “Similar to homes, the early childhood school environments (Grade 1) were lacking in [learning] material to adequately stimulate children. In addition, they lacked space and furniture and programme structure. Areas in which schools func-


tioned adequately were parent-teacher interaction and language use. Both private and public Grade 1 environments were similar” (14). These observations of the learning environments in Caribbean preschool and day care centres were undertaken as part of research studies on nationally representative samples in the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and on the whole sector in Montserrat and Grenada (a second study) between 1998 and 2005(22). The instrument used in the Profiles Project and in each national survey was the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) Revised Edition (1998) by Harms, Clifford and Cryer. The findings were broadly similar across the region in terms of relative strengths and weaknesses. Early childhood learning environments lacked adequate space, material, furniture and programme structure. Critically considering the importance of exposure to books and the process of being read to in the development of pre-literacy skills and motivations, the environments lacked books and story-book activities. However, a relative strength in two thirds or more of learning environments (except in one country survey) was the quality of staff-child interactions. The combination of teacher directed learning and the lack of hands-on learning experiences for children appears to have resulted in a greater emphasis on staff-child interactions, perhaps an indication that staff are making a virtue out of necessity. The data in the table which follows on three key indicators taken from the quality surveys illustrate the range of ratings of “inadequate” from 34% to 73% on the critical variable of access to books/picture books and the practice of reading to children. The high levels of ratings of inadequate provision are repeated for many of the other 40 indicators that were measured. In contrast, the range of inadequate ratings for staff-child interaction (with one exception) is 33% to 10%.


Selected Inadequate Ratings from Quality Surveys Country Year Space and Furnishings Books and Pictures; Reading to Children Staff-Child interaction #1 2002 77% 73% 55% #2 2001 67% 67% 33% #3 2000 30% 42% 21% #4 2004 29% 48% 10% #5 2005 60% 48% 17% #6 2005 39% 46% 23% #7 2000 40% 34% 10%

In general the learning environments were not structured in a way that reflected how children learn best at a very young age. The pace and coverage of training in how to support learning in the early years is reflected in the learning environments throughout the region. However, in every country surveyed, examples of best practices were identified with the potential to set up mentoring arrangements between centres and key personnel. Several suggested improvements required no financing but changes in attitudes and working practices from basic health and safety routines to management of classroom environments. For example, key areas for support to children’s learning that emerged are: • managing “differences” between children, helping children learn tolerance; • guiding children to include one another in games, activities and everyday events at the centre; • developing rules with children for being fair and kind to each other «­» The enduring effects of poverty amongst a range of factors affecting childrearing is emphasized in the Profiles findings: • • Poverty impacts directly on children’s development and behaviour. Poverty impacts indirectly through parenting, the learning environment, social exposure etc.


Other research in Jamaica provides similar weight to the poverty factor. Incidence of children’s lifetime exposure to violence as witnesses, victims and perpetrators is higher among children from lower SES homes for almost all types of violence (16). The increasing number of female-headed households amongst families of the poor is becoming an institutional norm, and is a direct result of both male and female impoverishment (10a). Despite evidence that children in poor female headed households receive a higher proportion of the resources available to that household than they do in poor male headed households (10b), the status of children in all poor households is of increasing concern in Jamaica, as they are being raised without the prerequisites for healthy emotional development (10c). Research has also shown that the high level of childhood poverty is linked with early motherhood and with adverse outcomes for children in Jamaica (11). The timing of poverty is very important for determining the intensity of the outcome: the earlier the age at the first pregnancy the higher the risk. There are 50% more 17 and 18 year olds in school from the wealthiest quintile of the population of Jamaica than there are from the poorest quintile. The growth of jobloss in the economy is diminishing opportunities for training and employment, and increasing stress on young poor families. Employment opportunities are seen as assisting the emotional development of children by diminishing stress on families. Re-entry into the education and training system for young mothers would break the dependency on “baby fathers”, and assist in the prevention of spiraling problems triggering domestic violence and abuse. (11) «­» At the December 2005 ‘think tank’ in Jamaica [which examined the first draft of review of the literature], there was a discussion of the potential in comparing the findings related to parenting knowledge


and practices in the evaluation of the impact of the Roving Caregivers Programme2 on parenting and child development (21) with those in the Profiles Project. The evaluation of the Roving Caregivers Programme used a sample of 163 children aged 12 to 30 months, assigned to either the intervention or control group. The study found a significant impact of the Programme on parental knowledge but not on parenting practices. There were no differences in the parenting practices or parenting self-esteem scores between the two groups. In addition to undertaking the comparison on the findings regarding the impact on parents, it was suggested that the developmental scores of the sample of 163 children aged 12 to 30 months should be compared with the scores of the children in the Profiles sample at age six years. In 2004, for the first time, a module on parenting was incorporated into the Survey of Living Conditions, conducted every year in Jamaica using a national representative sample providing data on demography and consumption. The module is designed for administration in the home with the primary caregiver, biological or not, of children under 18 years of age; 90% of the 1098 caregiver-respondents were female. The instrument is designed as a series of possible responses to a question/statement with some opportunity for multiple answers and in some cases for answers to open ended questions. In the guidance for interviewers selected by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the module designers state: “While the information provided by this module will not be able to make any direct link between parenting practice and skill and child outcome, it will certainly shed light on parental practices and skills from a wide cross-section of the Jamaican society. This will be a major achievement, marking the first time that such data that is representative of the Jamaican society, in terms of geographical location, consumption status, age
2 A home-visiting programme founded in Jamaica and replicated in four Eastern Caribbean countries by the CCSI. “Rovers” (trained young women from local communities) visit parents of children between the ages of birth through three with toys and other stimulation materials to demonstrate activities parents can use with their children to promote their development.


group, education level, union and marital status, will be available” [our emphasis] The module sought information on the following issues: • Child care • Parenting support • Parent/child social activities/interaction • Parent/school involvement • Parental perception of child’s academic performance/ school/teacher quality • Parent/child separation • Discipline and corporal punishment in the home • Television viewing/supervision • Parental attitude to early sexual activity • Parental stress At the time of this writing, not all the data had yet been mined, but some of the preliminary report findings of relevance especially to young children include the following (19): • • • • • • • Poor, female, younger male, rural and multiple-children caregivers were all more likely to report feeling trapped by their parenting roles. Forty percent of caregivers were moderately stressed and 17% were highly stressed [by a stress index developed by the researchers from the data] Nearly 1/3 of the caregivers in poverty were highly stressed. Stress levels significantly shaped the interactions between caregivers and children. Poorer families tended to employ more restrictive interaction styles. Younger and more educated caregivers used more interactive parenting styles. Caregivers engaged in relatively low levels of informal learning activities with young children.


• •

Corporal punishment was used more with young children than older ones. There was very uneven access to parenting support programmes or information, but health centres, churches, schools/PTAs played a pivotal role in supporting rural caregivers.

An important issue derived from the Parenting module is that of the interaction between school and parent. The module has a section that explores some of the barriers to parental involvement in their children’s schooling. When the data are analysed it will be instructive to include the findings in this review. A current three country study (Le Franc, Samms-Vaughan and others) in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica, comprising a sample of 4000 in total is questioning adults about their experiences in their early years (before the age of twelve) of internal and external migration, aggression, violence and morbidity. Two thirds of the sample is just over 18 years of age, a third are older. At this writing the data are collected but not yet analysed. This study should provide very useful insights. «­» Some questions arising for further discussion from Section 1: 1. What can we realistically expect of parents within serious poverty conditions (in terms of stimulation/nurturance)? 2. What other factors—apart from effects of poverty—are important to examine, e.g. religious beliefs, cultural norms, history, gender in terms of impact on child-rearing practices? 3. What are the effects of the presence and/or absence of fathers? If felt as a gap, how is gap filled? 4. What are the mental/social processes engendered in the outdoor, largely informal games children play (as opposed to organ-


ised games or play activities, indoor toys. Are caregivers more engaged in outdoor activity than indoor? 5. What are the characteristics of friendships and peer relations amongst children, and the impact they have on their development? 6. How can the disjuncture between parents’ educational aspirations for their children and their understanding of the process of education be addressed? 7. How do child-rearing patterns at home affect the child’s adjustment to the institutional demands of school? 8. How much do we know about the impact of the adjustments required of children who are shifted from one or more homes during their formative years? 9. What are the effects on children’s internal lives of loss and migration? 10. What are Caribbean concepts of “play” and what constitutes play and its meanings for children? What kinds of play could be demonstrated to parents as beneficial? 11. How are all these questions affected by the gender of the child? 12. How do we obtain the voices of children on their own experiences of nurturance and play? 13. Are there evaluations of parenting programmes that would provide insights on parenting practices in the process of change? Section 1: References (1) Grantham-McGregor, S., Landmann, J. and Desai, P. (1983) Childrearing in poor urban Jamaica, in Child: care, health and development, 1983, 9, 57-71, Blackwell Scientific Publications. [Study cited Levine, R (1977), Childrearing as cultural adaptation , in Culture and Infancy: variations in the human experience, eds. P.H.Liederman, S.R.Tulkin and A. Rosenfeld, Academic Press, New York; and, Levine, R (1980) A cross-cultural perspective on parenting, in Parenting in a Multi-Cultural Society, eds. M.D.Fantini & R. Cardenas,


Longmans, New York] (2) Payne, M.A and Furnham, A F , (1992) Parental self-reports of child rearing practices in the Caribbean, Journal of Black Psychology, Spring 1992, Vol.18, No.2, pp 19-36 (3) Evans, H (1989) Perspectives on the socialisation of the working class Jamaican Child, Social and Economic Studies, Volume 38, no3, 177-203 [citing (a) Grant D.R.B., Leo-Rhynie, E., and Alexander, G., Children of the lesser world in the English speaking Caribbean, Vol. V: Household Structures and Settings, Kingston, UWI:PECE, 1983 ; (b) Anderson, K.V. An Analysis of Certain Factors Affecting the Scholastic Achievement of Lower SES as Compared with Middle SES Children in Jamaica, unpublished D.Ed Thesis, Cornell University, 1967; (c) Foner, N., Status and Power in Rural Jamaica, New York: Teachers’ College Press, 1973; (d) Jarrett, J., A Survey of the Experiential Background of a Sample of Lower class Pre-school Jamaican children”, Unpublished B.Ed. I. Study, Faculty of Education, UWI, 1976; (e)Brodber, E., The child in his social environment, mimeo, n.d..; (f) Kerr, M., Personality and Conflict in Jamaica, London: Collins, 1963; (g) Clarke, E. My Mother who Fathered Me, 2nd ed., London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966 (h) Wein,N., Longitudinal Study Progress Report No. 1, U.W.I., Institute of Education, Bernard van Leer Foundation, 1972; and (i) Watson, E.M., The non-school environment and children’s creativity, Caribbean Journal of Education, Vol.6, No.3, 1979, 178-96 (4) Roopnarine, J.L., Shin, M., and Lewis, T.Y. English-speaking Caribbean Immigrant Fathers: The task of unpacking the cultural pathways to intervention in Fagan, J and Hawkins, A. Eds. (2001) Clinical and Educational Interventions with fathers, New York, Haworth Press (5) Roopnarine, J.L. and Brown, J eds. (1997) Caribbean families: Diversity among ethnic groups , Norwood, NJ:Ablex


(6) Flinn, M. (1992) Paternal care in a Caribbean village, in Hewlett, B ed Father child relations: cultural and biosocial contexts, 57-84, New York: Aldine de Gruyter (7) Roopnarine, J.L., Shin, M., Jung, K., and Hossain, Z. Play and Early Development and Education The Instantiation of Parental Belief Systems in Contemporary Perspectives on Play in Early Childhood Education, 2003, 115-132, Information Age Publishing Inc. (8) Leo-Rhynie, E (1997) Class, race and gender issues in childrearing in the Caribbean in Roopnarine, J.L. and Brown, J eds, op cit. (5) (9) Samms-Vaughan, M., 2001, The Profiles Project, Report No.1, A profile of the status of Jamaican preschool children and their learning environments. Department of Child Health with Caribbean Child Development Centre, UWI: Mona (10)(a) Chevannes, B., Behavioural Norms and the Transmission of Poverty, Dimensions of Culture. Oral presentation, April 21st 2005, Breaking the Cycle: The intergenerational transmission of poverty in Jamaica, Planning Institute of Jamaica. See also (b) HANDA, S (1996) Expenditure behaviour and children’s welfare: An analysis of female headed households in Jamaica, Journal of Development Economics, Vol 50 No 1, pp165-187, Amsterdam and (c) Newman-Williams, M and Sabatini, F (1995) The economics of child poverty in Jamaica, UNICEF, Caribbean Area Office (CAO), Barbados (11) Ricketts, H., Responding to the challenges, Parenting. Oral presentation, April 21st 2005, Breaking the Cycle: The intergenerational transmission of poverty in Jamaica, Planning Institute of Jamaica (12) Grantham-McGregor SM, Powell CA, Walker SP, Chang S, Fletcher P.(1994) The long term follow-up of severely


malnourished children who participated in an intervention program. in Child Development 65:428-439. (13) Powell, C., Baker-Henningham, H., Walker, S., Gernay, J., Grantham-McGregor, S. (2004) Integrating early stimulation into primary health care services for undernourished Jamaican children: a randomised controlled trial, Tropical Metabolism Research Institute, UWI: Mona (14) Williams, S. (2005) Quality of learning environments in early childhood settings: reports of national surveys in Montserrat (2002), St. Lucia (2002), Grenada (2000), Dominica (1999), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2001)* and the Bahamas (2004); *with Brown, J. Caribbean Child Development Centre, UWI: Mona (15) Barrow, C. (2005) A situational analysis of Approaches to Childrearing and Socialisation in the Caribbean: The cases of Dominica and Trinidad, Caribbean Support Initiative, Bridgetown, Barbados. (16) Samms-Vaughan, M. (2005) A Comprehensive Analysis of Jamaican Children’s Exposure to Violence at 11 – 12 Years. PAHO (17) Roopnarine, J, and Metindogan, A..(2008) Early Childhood Education Research in Cross-National Perspective, Unpublished manuscript, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York (19) Ricketts, H. and Anderson, P. (2005) Executive Summary of Parenting in Jamaica: A Study conducted on behalf of the Planning Institute of Jamaica. (20) Samms-Vaughan, M.E. (2000) Cognition, educational attainment and behaviour in a cohort of Jamaica children. Planning Institute of Jamaica. Social Policy Analysis Programme Working Paper No. 5. (21) Powell, Christine (2004) An evaluation of the Roving Care givers Programme of the Rural Family Support Organisa tion, UNICEF Jamaica.


(22) Williams, S. National surveys of the quality of learning environments in early childhood centres (ECEs): • 2006 - Jamaica: Early Childhood Commission/Dudley Grant Memorial Trust (basic schools); • 2005 – Grenada: Ministry of Education (preschools and day care centres); • 2005 – Jamaica: Bernard van Leer Foundation/Dudley Grant Memorial Trust (basic schools in three parishes); • 2004 - Commonwealth of the Bahamas: Child Focus II Project/IADB (ECEs); • 2002 - Government of St. Lucia/UNICEF Caribbean Area Office (ECEs); • 2001 - Government of Montserrat/UNICEF Caribbean Area Office (ECEs); • • • 2000 - Government of Grenada/UNICEF Caribbean Area Office (ECEs); 2000 - Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica/ UNICEF Caribbean Area Office (ECEs). 2000 –Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines / European Union (ECEs), with Janet Brown.



The child development literature for the Caribbean prior to the 1980s was sparse. Neither the annotated bibliography of articles compiled by the Caribbean Child Development Centre (CCDC) for the period 1960 through 1980, and a subsequent review compiled by the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust for the period up to 1995 (20) looked specifically at issues of gender within the family. Under the sub-headings family, and social development, only two articles seemed directly related: one by Bailey and Parkes (1995) which examined the stereotyping of gender images in Grades 1 and 3 textbooks in Jamaica, and another from Barbados in 1972 which


used the Draw-a-Person test with 8-15 year olds to examine gender identity formation. In the latter study, the author stated that ‘both conflict of cross-sex identity and consistency of feminine identification occur in father-absent males…” and noted the critical period of the first two years of life. Gender of the parent However, there has been considerable work undertaken on the matrifocal nature of the family in the Caribbean. The set of studies in the late 1980s under the Women in the Caribbean Project (21, 22) provided a large body of material that profiles the Caribbean woman as both worker and nurturer—central to the socialization of children and perpetuation of cultural norms, the family “bedrock”. In research conducted in Jamaican urban settings (16, 17) roughly one-half of fathers live with families; fathers in visiting unions spend about 4 hours a week with their children (17, 18). One half of fathers never took their children on outings. Information was lacking on fathers in rural areas. In the mid-1980s a search for fathers in the literature was triggered by a survey of education, health and social services related to young children in the Caribbean (1) which garnered reports from eleven countries within UWI’s ambit. A call for help with the engagement of fathers in the support and care of their children was one of the loudest signals sounded by these reports. The literature search returned very little that could help the University’s child development centre for the region (CCDC) shape an informed response to this call. The title of a seminal ethnography by Edith Clarke in 1957 (2) seemed to summarise this dearth: My Mother Who Fathered Me. Although Clarke was describing communities in which 70% of families did in fact have fathers present, the image of “absentee fathers” (who are non-resident and/or marginal to family life) became a cultural “given” in the materials prepared for parenting education efforts during the 70s and 80s. Most of the rest of family literature, much of which emerged during the burgeoning


research of the women’s movement internationally and in the Caribbean during the 1970s and 80s, described the matrifocal nature of Caribbean families generally (females as primary nurturers, central to family functioning) (3) and relied largely on deficit perspectives when examining the role of men in relation to their families—both in terms of partnerships and in terms of parenthood—men were NOT present, NOT faithful, NOT sufficiently responsible, NOT steady financial contributors. These deficit perspectives of men as fathers are deeply embedded. In the developing economies of the region, the primary expectation of men as fathers has been that of financial provision, and the related role of family protector. With large segments of populations un- and under-employed, this narrow definition relegates many men to marginal existence within and outside their families. Add high rates of conjugal instability and strong cultural expectations that a son should financially support his mother and siblings, and the cultural scaffolding for this deficit framework becomes glaringly apparent. In the words of a Trinidadian scholar: “the social construction of the male breadwinner role is therefore an important mechanism by which men are ensnared into their own oppression” (4). In Jamaican parlance, men are “given basket to carry water”. A joint UWI study by CCDC and the Department of Sociology and Social Work was undertaken in 1991(5), utilising both quantitative and qualitative approaches to arrive at a clearer picture of the attitudes and behaviours of Jamaican men in relation to family life. Seven hundred men from four different communities of poor and working class families were surveyed, and in the same or similar communities focus groups probed key issues with men and women about men’s participation in the family and contributions to child-rearing. Two years of field work produced many confirmations of “hunches” and a few surprises. A brief summary of these findings is contained in a discussion guide designed to foster further explorations among community groups (6):


▪ The common multiple-union pattern of men adds on more complex obligations and expectations as the man gets older. Thus a man’s FAMILY may be defined differently at different points in his life as he views his familial responsibilities to his parents (especially his mother), to his siblings and their children, to the mother(s) of his children, to his outside child(ren) from earlier unions, and to any child(ren) with whom he may now live with a common-law or married wife. ▪ Men contribute more to family life than is credited. Caribbean women’s role remains that of primary caregiver of children, and many women carry this role without their children’s father present in the home. But the study provides evidence that men are far more involved in positively contributing to family life than popular stereotypes suggest. ▪ Men are active with their children and in domestic chores, but do not feel enhanced by these tasks. The majority of men described their active, often daily, participation in tidying, playing and reasoning with their children, and in helping regularly with homework. Up to 50% reported that they also regularly cook, tidy the house and go to the shop. At the same time, men generally admit that these contributions in the domestic sphere are perceived still by most men and some women as primarily “women’s work”; they are not selfenhancing, particularly if economic circumstances do not permit contributions in keeping with the culturally prescribed role of breadwinner and thus family head, roles implying authority and decision-making status. ▪ Being a father has strong personal meanings for men. Fathering is both part of a man’s self-definition and his route to maturity. ▪ “Outside” children appear more psychologically vulnerable than “inside” children. Children born early in a man’s life, enhancing his sense of manhood, are often seen later as destabilisers of new partnerships, and are sacrificed by one or both partners in order to firm the new union. ▪ Conditions of poverty negatively affect child-rearing practices. High underand unemployment, migration to earn, women’s labour market participation, the erosion of the extended family’s capacities to assist with child care—all present barriers for men’s and women’s fulfillment of their understood roles.


This study begged more questions than provided answers, at least in terms of hard data that could speak definitively to the positioning of men in relation to their families and specifically to their children. It was a significant study, however, in shifting future research away somewhat from the deficit perspectives of earlier examinations to more open queries into the meanings family and children hold for men, the socialization of men and women into the roles they play out on a daily basis, and the historical roots of manifest patterns and behaviours. «­» A direct follow-on to the 1993 UWI report cited above was a wider Caribbean examination of patterns of gender socialization, undertaken in Dominica, Guyana and Jamaica by the same two UWI departments (7). Some of the questions raised in this study included: ▪ Where do men’s and women’s defined family roles originate? ▪ How do parents perpetuate or change these roles in their children? ▪ Are attitudes and behaviours of parents changing in the Caribbean, as elsewhere, in relation to gender roles? As in the earlier UWI fatherhood study, men found it almost impossible to separate concepts of manhood from their identities and roles in relation to women or as fathers to their children. Manhood was clearly defined (in terms of sexual prowess, earnings and household head/authority) but its components often worked at cross purposes. Early sexuality (to prove prowess and heterosexuality in a homophobic society) too often produces progeny which add obligations before education and earnings have equipped a man to act as breadwinner. Because the breadwinner role is primary for a father, un- or under-employment often place this role beyond his reach, and as noted earlier, nurturing behaviours remain for both men and women unacceptable


male substitutes for financial contribution. Lack of financial support tends to dilute or negate a man’s claim to family headship, even if resident. With these realities, it is not surprising that man-woman relationships were found to be fraught with distrust and disillusionment. Multiple partnerships for men (culturally “acceptable”) as well as women (“unacceptable”) have implications not only for union stability but for the “inside” and “outside” children of these unions. Women assume de facto family headship when men can’t sufficiently provide for the family or are non-resident, or when women are larger earners. Unmet expectations contribute to high levels of domestic abuse—primarily though not exclusively men against their partners, and of course affecting children of the relationships. Traditional child-rearing strategies—of protecting and preparing daughters for independence or a secure partnership, and encouraging the development of male “survival” skills via greater independence learned outside the home—were described as increasingly ineffective, particularly in poor inner-city populations. Child-rearing practices were strongly gendered vis-a-vis chores, leisure activities allowed/encouraged, social skills taught, discipline administered, affection demonstrated, and in preparation for sexuality. They were also fraught with contradictory messages, particularly in relation to emerging sexuality and responsibility. Parents often reported feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to the challenges, without sufficient child development knowledge or skills (7). «­» From an ethnographic study spanning 12 years in Dominica, Quinlan and Flinn (26) tested the assumption that father absence and conjugal instability were related patterns imbedded for successive generations in early childhood. They concluded that the evi-


dence for this hypothesis was weak at best, and that conjugal instability was more strongly correlated with the levels of control (or not) parents exercised during adolescence. «­» It is clear that the global revolution in gender role demands and shifts has of course also impacted the Caribbean; many younger and more educated families seem to be generally more comfortable with broadened roles for both women and men and with the corollary of broader domestic load-sharing. But there are many contradictory views and behaviours as inevitable changes occur, and the confusion for child-rearing practices remains evident. Roopnarine (20) examined the degree to which fathers in Jamaican common-law relationships were directly involved with their infant children: fathers spent .52 hours cleaning and bathing infants, .94 hours feeding infants, and 2.75 hours playing in stimulating ways with infants per day. This time investment compared similarly to men of colour in the U.S. Black Carib men in Belize, however, were found to engage minimally in social interactions with young children (21). «­» In 2001, the Profiles Project in Jamaica found that “on the surface, children’s emotional environment seemed stable. More than 80 per cent of children had had only a single mother or father figure. However, only two-thirds of children (at age six) had both biological parents as their parenting figures and less than a half lived with both their biological parents. Relationships between parents had proven to be very unstable with more than 40 per cent of biological parents reporting no relationship with each other by the time their child was six years old. “Just over 40 per cent of children were physically separated from their fathers and just under 20 per cent from their mothers. The


main reason for separation from mothers was migration, and from fathers, the ending of the parental relationship. Migration was also an important factor in separation from fathers and parental inadequacy for separation from mothers. More fathers were providing financial support (81 per cent) than were credited with providing emotional support as the father figure (74 per cent).” (19) «­» In 2005 Dr. Patricia Anderson of UWI launched a study to replicate and extend the 1991 fatherhood study, surveying Jamaican men from four communities, but this time including a middle class sample, a group which to date has been largely ignored in the research. New questions were determined through a series of focus groups with middle class and working class fathers, and through a pilot test of new questions. These questions, which seek to tap dimensions of masculinity and father role identification, were added to the original questionnaire. The focus groups also were used to help ensure that key areas of additional investigation were covered, especially the nurturance aspects of men's fathering, the gate-keeping role of mothers, changing attitudes to parenting, load sharing, etc. This study will signal any changes in perceived or actual family roles of men and women over the nearly 15 years between studies. One initial finding indicates that men increasingly are defining their role as father as ‘being there for the child.’ Preliminary findings of this study were presented at the Dominica researchers meeting; the summary report on these presentations will be available from CCSI in 2008 (check CCSI website: «­» An earlier study on paternal involvement with children in Guyana (27) examined the interplay of economic conditions, personality, household structure and psychological factors such as the father’s


self-esteem and self-efficacy. In a sub-set of the full survey, the data from married men living with a spouse and at least one child age 5-17 were analysed: ▪ Paternal involvement with children increased with SES and education of the father, but not significantly with occupation. In fact, professional men and those earning the highest income reported lower levels of involvement than some other groups. The utilisation of domestic help was suggested as a partial explanation of this difference. ▪ A father’s self-esteem did not determine his level of involvement, but more performance-oriented self-mastery was significantly related. ▪ Fathers who had experienced close relationships with their own fathers were more involved than those who did not, and this did not differ significantly across SES. ▪ Fathers with working wives and fathers within extended families were less involved with their children than men with wives at home and in nuclear households. ▪ Paternal involvement was higher in Indo-Guyanese households than in Afro-Guyanese, in which maternal control of children is stronger. Roopnarine, in examining mother-child and father-child relationships in the Caribbean suggests parents sometimes use an economic lens in relation to children: “Recognizing the utilitarian value of children, parents formulate different perceptions of boys and girls and form divergent relationships with them. Depending on economic conditions and conjugal relationships, it is expected that children will care for their aging parents. Whereas boys are expected to do so, mothers form close alliances with daughters and may receive social and economic support from them (Handwerker 1996). In many low-income families, mothers prefer girls to boys (Justus, 1981), Sargent and Harris 1992), as they perceive boys as more difficult to raise than girls


(Leo-Rhynie 1997). Assessing gender ideology and childrearing in Jamaica, Sargent and Harris (1992) found an overwhelming preference for girls among women (78.7%), and more mothers used adjectives such as “bad”(73.5% versus 26.5%) and “rude”(62.1% and 37.9% to describe boys than girls.” Roopnarine notes the gendered nature of home and community activities for children. He illustrates: “Dominican 5-year-old girls sweep the household yard, wash dishes and clothes and encourage younger children to behave appropriately. They also assist with processing coconuts. By comparison, boys are required to tend to animals (Dubrow 1999, Justus 1981)”. «­» The social sciences faculties at the three major UWI campuses, particularly the Gender and Development Units, have further examined Caribbean masculinities, critical adjuncts to how maleness plays out within the family as well as in other wider community roles (13). The historical examinations of Hilary Beckles (14) and Pat Mohammed (15) among others into the impact of slavery and indentureship on men, women and families have helped deepen and contextualise current issues of gender, sexuality, and the meanings of childhood for the Caribbean. While the work undertaken on gender in relation to family since the 1990s has given us clearer pictures of what we saw more dimly before, we are still left with questions that future research needs to tackle if we are to speak with greater confidence about the intricately interwoven threads of gender in identity formation and personality development within the context of family life. Most of these questions seek the WHYs of parental perpetuation or rejection of long-standing, culturally imbedded attitudes and behaviours. Gender of the child Emerging from the research, the precarious position of boys is giving increasing cause for concern: “Gender division of labour regulates the


activities of households and this is apparent at all stages of the life cycle. Children are socialized to recognize and be part of these divisions…children thus grow up to associate order with divisions based on gender. One of the implications of this ordering of gender is a tighter control over girls than over boys. The notion of greater sexual freedom for males is brought about by the way they are socialized, and it is considered natural for adult men to keep more than one woman. The looser rein over boys also means greater freedom for them to associate with and pattern their own behaviour after older males”(25). Greater attention is given to girls to learn at school and develop social skills and values; it is more common for boys to be encouraged to learn “fending” skills and income generating skills at an early age. It is interesting in this context that educational achievement research in Jamaica suggests that although boys are at an equivalent performance level to girls on entry to Grade 1 of primary school, differences between them in academic achievement are beginning to be evident by Grade 3, and become more marked by Grade 4 in the Literacy Test. The incidence of drop out as early as Grade Four (9 years old) is on a ratio of 8:5 boys to girls (19). «­» From the field of education, gender differentials in exam results called for researchers to help us understand why girls throughout the Caribbean seemed to be outperforming boys in many subjects—sometimes reported as early as entry to Grade One—and in numbers of graduates at the high school and tertiary levels. The exam data provided fuel for theoretical postulates, e.g. Miller’s male marginalisation theory (related to the feminization of education among other factors), Figueroa’s work on male privileging which points out that female socialization prepares girls better for the routines of the education system than boys, Parry’s examination of the “gendering” of academic subjects, and Chevannes’


rejection of “male marginalisation”, suggesting that many men, particularly those encumbered by poverty and poor initial education, have simply discarded education as a viable route to desired goals, while women remain empowered by educational routes to greater independence (9, 10, 11, 12). Samms-Vaughan’s data from Jamaica’s cohort study assert that boys “were significantly more likely than girls to experience violence as witnesses or victims. They were also much more likely to receive corporal punishment at school than girls”. (23) A small studny as part of a six-country examination of gender issues in relation to very young children (8) teased the researchers further—again a qualitative approach without the weight of significant numbers, but furthering our curiosity about how early gender positions are shaped. Girls and boys in Grade One described not only different personal tasks and competencies, but differing levels of confidence in their skills, at least in the domestic sphere. Whilst girls indicated a strong almost competitive interest in the “boys’ activities” the boys showed no interest whatsoever in “girls’ work”. «­» We found no research on the psychological and emotional impact of being an ‘outside child’, the description given to a child of a mother or father born before or outside the parent’s current relationship/family, and who lives with the other parent or another relative. Similarly, there appears to be no research from the perspective of the ‘inside children’ concerning their relationship to and with an outside child. There is no research from the perspective of a child born to a mother who is not in a union with the child’s father but with the father of other children of hers. However it has been observed (7) that a father’s interaction with his outside child is much less than that with his inside children. If he has no inside children, the relationship with the outside child may remain strong.


New unions can have the effect of blocking interactions with the outside child. The status of the union (married or unmarried) does not appear to have an effect. This is an area that needs research to identify the extent to which children are affected. «­» Some questions arising for further discussion from Section 2: 1. What are the effects of the presence and/or absence of fathers? If felt as a gap, how is gap filled? 2. How much are child rearing practices and attitudes in relation to gender roles within the family changing within the Caribbean? [The recent Anderson study on fathers in Jamaica will provide some answers to this question.] 3. What are the factors in parental perpetuation or rejection of culturally imbedded attitudes and behaviours? Are these gender differentiated? 4. Does the gender of “outside” children or “shifted” children make a difference to his or her treatment by mother or father, other family members? Section 2: References (1) Brown, J. (1988) Report on a Survey of Educational, Health and Social Services for Young Children in the Caribbean, Caribbean Child Development Centre, UWI. (unpublished) (2) Clarke, E. (1957) My Mother Who Fathered Me: A Study of the Family in Three Selected Communities in Jamaica, Bos ton: George Allen and Unwin (3) Chevannes, B. (2001) Learning to be a Man. Kingston: UWI Press [citing Madeline Kerr 1963, Raymond Smith 1956, Hyman Rodman 1971, Peter Wilson 1973, Durant-Gonzales 1976. Jocelyn Massiah 1986. For work on the Indo- Caribbean family Chevannes cites the work of R.T. Smith and


Jayawardena in the late 50’s-early 60’s, Niehoff and Niehoff (1960), Klass (1988), Demographic work of Roberts and Braithwaite (1962) and ethnographies by Nevadomsky (1985), Silverman (1980) and Thakur (1978).] (4) Nurse, K. (2003) The Masculinization of Poverty: Gender and Global Restucturing Paper at UNESCO Consultation on Mainstreaming Gender, UWI (Mona) (5) Brown, J. Anderson, P and Chevannes, B. (1993) The Contribution of Caribbean Men to the Family: A Jamaica Pilot Study. Report to IDRC, UNICEF and CUSO. (6) Brown, J., Broomfield, R and Ellis, O. (1994) Men and Their Families: Handbook for Discussion Groups, CCDC, UWI (7) Brown, J. and Chevannes, B. (1998) Why Man Stay So: Tie the Hiefer, Loose the Bull. An Examination of Gender Socialisation in the Car ibbean by the UWI, UNICEF. (8) McGarrity, G. and Brown, J. (1997) Gender and the Young Child: A Jamaican Community Exploration. In Coordinator’s Notebook: An International Resource for Early Childhood Development. No. 20. (9) Miller, E. (1986) The Marginalisation of the Black Jamaican Male: Insights from the Development of the Teaching Profession. Kingston: Institute of Social and Economic Research, UWI; and (1991) Men at Risk. Kingston: Jamaica Publishing House. (10) Figueroa, M. (1996) Male Privileging and Male Academic Performance in Jamaica. Symposium paper, Centre for Gender and Development Studies, UWI St. Augustine, and (1996) with Sudhanshu Handa. Female Schooling Achievement in Jamaica: A Market and non-Market Analysis. Department of Economics, UWI (Mona) (11) Parry, O. (2000) Student Choices in Kingston High Schools. (12) Chevannes, B. (1999) What We Sow and What We Reap: Problems in the cultivation of male identity in Jamaica. Grace, Kennedy Foundation Lecture Series. (13) Reddock, R, ed. (2004) Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities:


Theoretical and Empirical Analyses. St. Augustine: UWI Press (14) Beckles, H. (2000) Property Rights in Pleasure: The Market ing of Enslaved Women’s Sexuality in Shepherd, V. and Beckles, H.McD. (eds) Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World, Kingston, Ian Randle Press. (15) Mohammed, P. “The Idea of Childhood and Age of Sexual Maturity Among Indians in Trinidad: A Sociohistorical Scrutiny”. In Roopnarine J and Brown, J. (1997) Caribbean Families: Diversity Among Ethnic Groups. Greenwich Conn.: Ablex Publishing Corporation (16) Grant D.R.B., Leo-Rhynie, E., and Alexander, G., Children of the lesser world in the English speaking Caribbean, Vol. V: Household Structures and Settings, Kingston, UWI:PECE, 1983 (17) Grantham-McGregor, S., Landmann, J. and Desai, P. (1983) Childrearing in poor urban Jamaica, in Child: care, health and development, 1983, 9, 57-71, Blackwell Scientific Publications (18) Roberts, G.W. and Sinclair, S., Women in Jamaica – Patterns of Reproduction and Family, Millwood: TKO Press, 1978. (19) Samms-Vaughan, M 2001, The Profiles Project, Report No.1, A profile of the status of Jamaican preschool children and their learning environments. Department of Child Health with Caribbean Child Development Centre, UWI: Mona (20) World Bank (1999) 35 Years of Early Child Development in the Caribbean, CDROM. (21) Massiah, J. (1986) Women in the Caribbean Project, Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), UWI: Cave Hill (22)Senior, O. (1991) Working Miracles: Women’s Lives in the English-Speaking Caribbean. ISER, UWI: Cave Hill.


London: James Currey. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (23) Samms-Vaughan, M. (2005) A Comprehensive Analysis of Jamaican Children’s Exposure to Violence at 11 – 12 Years, PAHO (24) Roopnarine, J. and Evans, M. (2005) Family Structural Organisation, Mother-Child and Father-Child Relationships and Psychological Outcomes in English-speaking African Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean Families (25) Munroe, R. and Munroe, R. (1992). Fathers in children’s environments: A four culture study. In B. Hewlett (ed), Father-child relations: Cultural and biosocial contexts. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. (26) Quinlan, R. and Flinn, Mark (2003) Intergenerational Transmission of Conjugal Stability in a Caribbean Community, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Vol. 34, pp 569-584 (27) Wilson, L.C. and Kposowa, A J. (1994) Paternal In volvement with Children: Evidence from Guyana, International Journal of Sociology of the Family, Vol. 24: 23-42



Health It must be noted at the outset that Caribbean basic indicators of child health and nutrition all register at or near the top of developing countries’ statistics: ▪ In the UN World Summit Goal statistics of 2002 (1), 12 Englishspeaking Caribbean countries ranked between a low of 62 and a high of 144 among 177 countries in rates of under five mortality; the average rank was 119. ▪ The average under-five mortality rate was 25.3 per 1000 live births, ranging from a low of 14 (Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados, to a high of 72 (Guyana). The average for the combined region of Latin America and the Caribbean is 34. ▪ Infant mortality (under the age of one) averaged 20.9 per live births, ranging from 12 to 54 for the same 12 countries (with the


same countries as highest and lowest). Again this was a better record than the combined Latin American and the Caribbean average of 27. These standards have been achieved with considerably lower per capita resources than the developed countries, for which the region can be justifiably proud. However, there remain pockets of malnutrition, some health gains remain fragile in contexts of poverty, and some conditions stubbornly work against achieving even higher indicators of child health. «­» The University of the West Indies’ Children’s Issues Coalition (ChIC) has undertaken a recent search and review of all research literature concerning children conducted in Jamaica in the areas of child health and nutrition, children’s emotional and social behaviour, children’s disabilities, aspects of considerable risk to children (abuse, child labour, exposure to violence), and children’s issues calling for policy positions (2). Draft summaries of each of these general areas have been compiled by ChIC, supported by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), and reviewed for this report. This data base can be viewed on the Caribbean Child Development Centre’s website: http// Unfortunately the summary of the large body of medical research that concerns children was not completed for the above project at this writing, and therefore could not be reviewed here for implications for parenting. However, some relevant issues related directly to children’s health were raised within the review of children’s policy issues that call for further investigations (2): 1. Antenatal care begins too late for too many Caribbean mothers-to-be: only 30% of women on average started their prenatal care within the first trimester; Jamaica’s percentage is lower at 23%.


2. Twenty-five percent of antenatal care visits (in Jamaica) were teenage mothers; this figure is probably similar to the rest of the Caribbean. Teenage pregnancy has been rising as a percentage of live births, despite the general lowering of the fertility rates across the Caribbean, although there is recent research indicating the beginning of a decline in Jamaica (3). In Jamaica, the proportion of young women 15-19 years of age who have had a child by the age of 20 has remained almost stable. Children of very young mothers face greater birth and early developmental risks. 3. HIV/AIDS statistics are increasingly sobering for the Caribbean; it is now the second leading cause of death of children between ages one and four in Jamaica. (This issue is dealt with in greater detail in Section 5.) 4. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the recommended route to optimum health for newborns. But recent studies in Jamaica suggest that breastfeeding rates and the length of time mothers breastfeed remain considerably below this target despite promotion campaigns. This has negative implications for children’s short- and long-term health. Ja maica reports only 47% of infants at six weeks old were being exclusively breastfed; by three months this figure declined to 35%; 5.6 % do not breastfeed at all(4). Younger mothers cease breastfeeding sooner than older mothers. Since teenage mothers have higher percentage of low birth weight babies, this is even more worrisome in child health terms. 5. Gender differentials in children presenting health concerns to clinics/hospitals were striking in the Jamaica statistics. In all categories of presenting health issues for children from birth through age 9, boys have significantly higher incidence except for sexual assault (which is known to be under-reported in the case of boys). Males from age 10 through 19 also have higher incidence of these same presenting problems except for poi-


soning, attempted suicides, and genito-urinary problems, which are presented more often by females in this age group. Examination of parenting behaviours (and environmental conditions) is certainly suggested by this list of presenting problems. Of the number of child patients treated for burns, poisoning, bites, stab wounds, blunt injuries, motor vehicle accidents, accidental lacerations, and genitor-urinary disorders, an average of 59.5% of children below age five were boys; 61.2% from five to nine were boys. These stark figures tell us little about the nature of the injuries or their contexts. «­» The findings of the Profiles Project in Jamaica (9) as regards health were as follows: “Asthma was the single commonest chronic health problem, reported in 12 percent of children. Burns and scalds were equally prominent (10 per cent) as the main accident or injury experienced by children. Despite these conditions, 89 per cent of children were reported to be currently in good or excellent physical health by their parents. As many as 8 per cent were reported to have had emotional or behavioural problems in the six months prior to the study but no mental health professional had been visited. Health care was received through the public health system by more than a half of children (55 per cent). A third received care from family practitioners and only 5 percent visited paediatricians. Dental health was neglected, with more than 80 percent of children never having visited the dentist. When their child’s functional ability (hearing, vision, speech) were enquired of, parents most commonly reported speech abnormalities (10 per cent). On evaluation during the project, hearing impairment was identified in 35 per cent and vision impairment in 10 per cent. Parental impressions were unable to identify children with sensory impairment.”


The content of parenting education programmes in relation to the care of children with asthma and also in relation to the care of children with sickle cell anaemia has not been sourced for this review; it may be that parenting education programmes supported by clinics have focused on parenting practices and that their evaluation has yielded useful insights. More exploration of these areas needs to be done. Nutrition In the absence of region-wide data, Jamaica’s statistics on child nutrition are assumed to be generally representative of the Caribbean, with some countries doing somewhat better and others having higher incidence of poor nutritional status: ▪ ▪ ▪ In Jamaica just under 10% of all live births are of low birth weight. For children five and under, low weight for age in 2002 stood at 6.4%, stunting affected 5.9% of children, and a smaller percentage (2.8%) were considered wasted. Obesity in children is a growing phenomenon. Although in 2001 the figure for Jamaica was 5%, it had risen over ten years from 2%.

In a report to UNICEF Jamaica in 2003(4), the nutrition interventions suggested for children under five years included a focus on stunting (as opposed to wasting), treating and monitoring repeated cases of diarrhea, more regular growth monitoring and anthropomorphic measurements at primary school entry. Maternal nutrition was also recommended as important in fighting malnutrition. «­» The University of the West Indies has led the region’s work on child nutrition; of the 84 studies/documents reviewed by the


ChIC group, at least 54 were conducted by the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI) of the UWI, and most of the others were generated by the University’s Department of Child Health. The studies reviewed span work of over twenty-five years. Of particular significance to this literature review on parenting practices are the studies which have examined the short- and longterm effects of different interventions with cases of severe to moderate malnutrition in young children. Many of the TMRI studies have measured the effects of supplementation (of protein and energy food basics) or stimulation, or the combination of both these interventions, on the child’s growth and development. These highly rigorous experimental studies have among their findings confirmed the critical importance of stimulation (in the forms of simple play materials and activities) as a basic prompt to both physical and cognitive development of the child—even more important than food supplementation. These studies have shown persistent benefits to the children’s IQ and school achievement up to age 16-17 years (5, 6, 7, 8). The import of these studies for parenting is to underscore the parent’s/caregiver’s critical role in stimulating children’s development consciously through simple play activities, conversation and interaction. Supplementation alone did not have the power to sufficiently redress physical and cognitive deficits in young children; consistent and regular stimulation had significantly greater power than supplementation alone, and not surprisingly stimulation combined with supplementation provided the greatest redress for malnourished children, enabling many to recover developmentally to the levels of control groups of non-malnourished children in similar conditions. Another parenting factor observed in these studies was that when a child is malnourished, and thus often less responsive and active, parental responsiveness may also be reduced, which can exacerbate the effects of the child’s malnutrition and impair recovery. The studies also draw attention to the real deficits of severe malnutrition, which can remain as permanent developmental/growth


impairments even when the child’s nutritional status has been improved. This underscores the importance of prevention rather than remediation as the optimum approach to reducing numbers of low birth weight children and the incidences of moderate and severe under-nutrition and over-nutrition. Low birth weight was found to be the greatest predictor of malnutrition in a sample of urban, poor young children from six months to 4 years old. Clearly prevention must involve engaging parents and other primary caregivers earlier and more consistently during and after pregnancy. The nutrition studies caution, however, against focusing on parenting practices alone by drawing attention to the realities of poverty, such as inadequate housing, poor and crowded environmental conditions, and low and inconsistent income to support proper household nutrition, which can work against the most caring efforts of poor parents. «­» Regarding the much smaller body of research on nutrient deficiencies and toxins, particularly iron deficiency, the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) (10) undertook a survey in five countries including Jamaica, Guyana and Dominica, focusing on different age groups including children in the age range 1-4 years old. The results indicate that iron deficiency is a major public health concern. The rates of anaemia in this age group are 43% in Dominica, and 48% in both Guyana and Jamaica. Whilst there are no serious vitamin A deficiencies, the rate of marginal deficiency of vitamin A ranges from 10.6 % in Guyana to 34% in Dominica and 58% in Jamaica. Whether these deficiencies are caused by lack of adequate iron intake or ignorance of the need for a proper diet was not clear (11). Anaemia is associated with poor developmental levels, impaired cognitive functioning and behavioural problems; since anaemia is


more prevalent in conditions of poverty, it is hard to designate precise causation. Research in Jamaica has revealed a prevalence of 42– 47% of the most common “worm” infection (T.trichiura) among surveys of urban and rural Jamaican grade school children (mostly light and moderate infections, but 4-6% heavy). Since repeated infections may be linked to emotional problems and poor school achievement, this level of incidence should also be addressed within parental education programmes as a prevention as well as remediation route. «­» The incidence of obesity as a rapidly rising phenomenon amongst the population in the Caribbean is particularly worrisome as it includes children. In 2004, the rate of obesity amongst preschool children was 3.9% in Barbados and 6.0% in Jamaica (13). Between 1990 and 1999, the incidence doubled in two Caribbean countries (Antigua Barbuda from 2% to 5.6%, Dominica from 4.1% to 9%) and increased considerably in others (e.g. St. Kitts Nevis from 5.8% to 10.2%, St Vincent and the Grenadines from 5.7% to 6.6%). (12). There is a link with increasing incidence of diabetes and hypertension in adults, and the increasing mortality rate associated with both diseases. Obesity related deaths cut across social economic groups and age groups and need to be studied in depth. However the increased rates in persons of low social economic status suggest that behaviour patterns are more likely to promote obesity. Pricing of foods affects purchasing habits with fats and sugars heavily subsidized in cheaper and more appealing foods to the poor and to their children. There is a great deal of promotion and marketing of energy dense foods, which can ‘overwhelm’ the body’s capacity to regulate physiologically. These types of food are provided by vendors at the gates of preschools and in school canteens. Local domestic agricultural policy does not encourage the economic production of vegetables and fruits.


CFNI notes that there are no trend analyses of physical activity of children in the Caribbean. Simple observation suggests there is insufficient physical activity allowed during school days, and physical education is generally timetabled no more than once a week. Surveys of the quality of preschool and day care environments in seven countries of the Caribbean found that in 5 countries, space was inadequate for gross motor play in more than a third of the environments, and gross motor equipment was inadequate in two thirds (14). Communities are increasingly unsafe places for children’s play and new housing schemes in urban areas are built without play areas (13). «­» Some questions arising for further discussion from Section 3: 1. What are the implications of commonly late starts to antenatal care for low birth weights, under-nutrition, maternal care, engagement of new fathers, etc. 2. What are the factors contributing to the persistent incidence of teenage pregnancies despite reproductive health education, school guidance, public education, etc. 3. What supports are in place/should be in place to ameliorate the early developmental risks to children of teenage mothers? 4. What are the Caribbean responses to rising HIV/AIDS statistics, especially as they concern young children either affected or infected? 5. What are factors resisting breastfeeding for the recommended length of time? Are there lessons to learn from any countries that have reversed this trend? Do the baby-friendly hospitals see positive effects on longer breastfeeding? 6. What are the factors that underlie the persistent gender differentials in children presenting health concerns to clinics/hospitals (virtually all indicators are higher for boys than girls)? Is this a common picture throughout the Caribbean, elsewhere? 7. Are there specific health and nutrition concerns that call for attention more than others, e.g. high levels of anaemia, asthma, hearing impairment, poor dental health, obesity, vitamin A deficiency?


Section 3: References (1) UNICEF HQ statistics re World Summit Goals: (2) Children’s Issues Coalition: Caribbean Childhoods: Documenting the Realities in Jamaica. Marina Ramkissoon, A literature review; section on health and nutrition, review of 84 studies/reports relevant to Jamaican children (unpublished; individual studies on CCDC website: (3) Anderson, P. Youth Unemployment. Paper presented to the Seminar hosted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Breaking the Cycle: The Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty in Jamaica, April 21, 2005, Kingston (4) Planning Institute of Jamaica (2003) The Jamaican Child 2002, A report of the Social Indicators Monitoring System. (5) Nutrition, Health and Child Development: Research Ad vances and Policy Recommendations, PAHO, TMRU (UWI) and World Bank, 1998: (references 6, 7, 8 are chapters) (6) Activity Levels and Maternal-Child Behavior in Undernutrition: Studies in Jamaica (Meeks Gardner and GranthamMcGregor) (7) Early Childhood Supplementation and Cognitive Development, During and After Intervention (Walker, Powell, Grantham-McGregor) (8) Integrating early stimulation into primary health care services for undernourished Jamaican children: a randomised controlled trial. Powell, C., Baker-Henningham, H., Walker, S., Gernay, J., Grantham-McGregor, S. (2004) (9) Samms-Vaughan, M. 2001, The Profiles Project, Report No.1, A profile of the status of Jamaican preschool children and their learning environments. Department of Child Health with Caribbean Child Development Centre, UWI: Mona [Published report 2004, Planning Institute of Jamaica]


10) Gordon, G., Johnson, P., Morris, A. and Henry, F. (2002) Iron and Vitamin A status in Five Caribbean Countries, in Micro-nutrient deficiencies in the Caribbean in Cajanus, Vol 35 No.1, The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute Quarterly (11) Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) (2000) Nyam News: The Silent Public Health Problem, CFNI, Mona Campus, University of the West Indies, Jamaica. (12) Henry, F. (2004) The Obesity Epidemic – a major threat to Caribbean development: the case for public policies in obesity, Cajanus, Vol 37 No.1, The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute Quarterly (13) De Onis, M and Blussner, M (2000) Prevalence and trends of overweight among preschool children in developing countries, American Medical Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol.72, No.4, 1032-1039 (14) Williams, S. National surveys of the quality of learning environments in early childhood centres (ECEs); see full list in Section 1 References.



From the earliest writings on Caribbean child-rearing (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), harsh and authoritarian types of discipline have been described as commonplace; “beatings” (with hand, belt or instrument) are in fact defended as essential tools of the responsible parent throughout the Caribbean. Arnold (6) described in 1982 the debate in the literature as to the origins of such harsh treatment of children—whether these behaviours were dictated by African retentions or the treatment


modelled within the conditions of slavery. Whatever the origins, physical punishment remains as a frequently employed method of parental control of even very young children, with a third rationale put forward more recently—as an outcome of parental stress within difficult economic and social conditions. Much of the literature on Caribbean disciplinary practices has been descriptive or impressionistic, without hard data achieved by more rigorous examination. There are a few studies, however, which have more specifically advanced our understanding of how and why parents and other primary caregivers attempt to achieve child outcome objectives via disciplinary measures. Most deal with corporal punishment, meted out by parents, caregivers and teachers. A few describe other measures used to discipline children. Roopnarine (20), citing Leo-Rhynie, suggests that parenting styles among African Caribbean parents are a “mixture of punitive control and indulgence and protectiveness” but varying to some extent among the social classes, with the harshest authoritarian parenting occurring among the lower classes while middle-class parents mix this with a more authoritative parenting style. He states that, like other societies based on traditional gender ideologies, Caribbean parents seek obedience, compliance and respectful behaviour from their children in relation to adults, even when unrealistic for age and circumstance. He cites a recent Guyana study (Wilson 2003) in which adults chose obedience as the “most desirable socialisation orientation for 10 – 16 year olds”. Payne (7) in reviewing available studies between 1949 and 1981 states that corporal punishment was most regularly used for inappropriate requests for food, fighting, disobedience, breaking things (even accidentally) and taking too long to complete tasks. In her Barbados survey of 499 parents/primary caregivers, Payne found just over 70% of respondents “generally approved” of corporal punishment and most of the rest felt it necessary “occasionally”; less than 4% of the total thought such physical punishment should never be used. A Jamaican study confirmed these findings with


parents/caregivers of even very young children: 79% of adult respondents reported “sometimes” beating their children ages 31 to 60 months old with a belt or stick (8). The Barbados study detailed the types of offenses which call for different forms of physical punishment. The most frequently cited offenses calling for such punishment were (a) disrespect shown to parents and elders, (b) dishonesty and lying, and (c) general disobedience. Payne noted that the majority of respondents frowned on excessive use (e.g. which cut the skin or left scars), and that there seemed to be evidence of some changing attitudes, particularly among younger parents, in the direction of reduced use of corporal punishment, particularly by anyone other than family members, or for poor performance at school and a “new concern with its deleterious effects on intellectual curiosity, creativity and independence of mind”. Occupational status and religious affiliation did not yield any significant group differences; it is particularly interesting that there were no significant class differences in attitudes towards corporal punishment. The support is widespread, underpinned by belief in its fundamental benefit in both the short and long term and the author concludes that “to some extent this stems from lack of confidence in alternatives”. A possible avenue for intervention, the study suggested, would be to feedback findings of surveys such as this into the community, to explain and demonstrate alternatives and to secure cooperation and provide support in using them for a defined period. The author suggests than another area for further investigation is the finding that women are more likely than men “to highlight problems associated with children becoming hardened to corporal punishment and/or subsequently unwilling or unable to respond to other forms of discipline (presumably reflecting the fact that women shoulder most of the responsibility for childcare and training)”. The problem of parental stress and its effects on child development outcomes was demonstrated in the Profiles Project (9). «­»


One of the few studies that examined the psychological effects of corporal punishment on children was conducted in St. Kitts as a part of a larger anthropological study begun in the mid 1980’s (10). The research team had examined the relationship between corporal punishment and children’s feelings of parental rejection, and how these played out in terms of their psychological adjustment. The choice of a Caribbean country was deliberate, knowing that the Caribbean generally sanctions corporal punishment as a parental obligation and demonstration of “true love” for the child. They were particularly interested to know whether children’s own acceptance of this wide cultural belief would mediate their perceptions of parental rejection when such punishment was used with them. Child and adult self-reports provided a baseline for this study of 300 children ages 9 to 16; in addition 100 children and one of their parents/primary care-givers were interviewed for approximately one hour. These tools were imbedded within the larger ethnographic observations. Some of the findings included the following: ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ Younger children were beaten more than older children Boys were beaten (a little) more than girls Boys were beaten more severely than girls The punishment was somewhat less harsh in the upper classes. Virtually all children interviewed accepted corporal punishment as necessary and positive for their development (and as expressing parental love). These beliefs about corporal punishment, however, did not have any significant effect on their perceptions of parental rejection or their psychological adjustment. ▪ Children DO perceive physical punishment as rejection. At low levels, physical punishment is not associated with serious adjustment problems. But as severity increases, so does the severity of adjustment problems. ▪ There is a similar correlation between children’s perception of parental rejection; the greater the sense of rejection, the more impaired is the psychological adjustment. ▪ While 7-10% of children in the U.S. typically report themselves to be rejected, 15% of Kittitian children experience


significantly more caretaker rejection than acceptance, and 25% experience significant elements of love withdrawal. The report posits in closing: “[A] dilemma [for practitioners in multicultural settings] is to balance respect for cultural diversity with the need to encourage parents to change behaviour management and other socialization procedures when empirical evidence shows those procedures to have deleterious long-term developmental consequences. A focus on practices that has been shown to be implicated in poor adjustment in many sociocultural contexts could help professionals transcend their own unfamiliarity with minority populations. To the extent that cultural ideals for personal psychological adjustment in these populations correspond roughly to the indicators of adjustment employed here, encouraging parents to abandon culturally condoned practices such as frequent and severe physical punishment seems responsible and yet not culturally insensitive”. «­» Another Barbados study (11) that is equally informing examined a wide range of child rearing attitudes, using a modified questionnaire (parental self-report) developed in the North American context. The authors caution the reader to note that the sample was somewhat skewed to literate respondents, that self-reports can always be challenged in terms of what parents think they should do rather than what they actually do, and that the instrument may not have been a totally comfortable cultural “fit”. However, the authors feel confidence in the fact that this exploratory study points out some clear directions for further indepth investigations. The adapted Block Child Rearing Practices Report grouped responses from the 628 parents completing the self-reports into two major sub-groups of factors: four factors which indicated parental nurturance and five which indicated parental restrictiveness. Nurturant factors included practices indicating positive


parent-child interaction, parental encouragement of a child’s intellectual curiosity and reflectiveness as well as their approval of children’s emotional expression, and disciplinary approaches based more in positive expectations than punitive measures for misdemeanors. Restrictive factors included such parental behaviours as controlling children’s behaviour through guilt or anxiety or by threats, suppression of children’s feelings, authoritarianism and concern for sociocultural conformity, insistence that children not challenge parental decisions, and concern for making good impressions on others. In this Barbados population it was found that: ▪ Mothers show greater encouragement of emotional expression and use more trust and praise to encourage behaviour than do fathers; there were no sex differences on the restrictive subscales. ▪ Respondents in the highest socio-economic group (roughly grouped by occupations) claimed greater physical involvement with their children, gave higher scores on intellectual nurturance, and scored lower on restrictive sub-scales except for socio-cultural conformity than the two other lower socioeconomic groups (manual and unemployed). ▪ Manual worker respondents scored lower on emotional nurturance than the other two groups. It should be noted that the “unemployed” category included housewives who were not seeking work. ▪ Barbadian parents generally were readier to endorse physical and emotional nurturant practices than to encourage intellectual curiosity and creativity. The authors see this attitude working paradoxically against parents’ strong desire for academic achievement in their children. The authors’ concluding observations include the following statement, which is echoed throughout all the discipline reports on Caribbean populations reviewed for this paper:


“Many Barbadians continue to adopt training techniques that concentrate on the expression of disapproval of undesired behavior to the relative detriment of praise and reward for acceptable behavior and effort”. «­» A 1998 report on a questionnaire administered to teachers and parents of preschool populations in Jamaica (12) also sought to get at the values underlying traditional parenting practices and how these relate to those of teachers who engage with the same children. Traditional practices in Jamaica “continue to exert powerful influences on current child rearing practices. Such traits as obedience, respect for elders, and sharing are highly prized in children. Beginning early in childhood, parents expect children to do what they are told. Spanking and threatening to withdraw love are common disciplinary techniques cited in the Jamaican childrearing literature.” Obedience is also a general expectation within the school setting, in which children are expected to follow rules and wait their turn for most of the school day. However, these attitudes are accompanied by a strong belief in showing love to their children; in fact, corporal punishment (as in other reports) is said to demonstrate parental love and concern. The questionnaire adapted three instruments used in North America for the Jamaican context, and measured attitudes to traditional child-rearing practices, parental intrusiveness (the degree to which parents thought it important to be involved in the details of their child’s thoughts and activities), and nurturant attitudes. Some of the key results are as follows: ▪ There were positive associations among traditional attitudes, valuing of rule-conformity, and intrusiveness. ▪ Valuing inquisitiveness in children was negatively associated with intrusiveness.


▪ Nurturance was not correlated with any of the other subscales. ▪ Higher education did not equate with higher nurturant scores. ▪ There were no significant mother-teacher differences when examining measures of either traditional child rearing ideas or nurturance. ▪ Teachers did value inquisitiveness more than ruleconformity, but most mothers did not weigh the two goals differently. ▪ Higher education in both teachers and mothers did point to a lessening hold of traditional values by placing a higher value on inquisitiveness and autonomy in children, which is consistent with studies in other parts of the world. The authors speculate that teacher training has influenced this direction towards more democratic ideals. ▪ Cautions about generalizing to the wider Jamaican society were noted in terms of representativeness of sample, the self-reporting nature of the questionnaire and the young age of the children. «­» Another school-based study (13) showed how deeply imbedded is the sanctioning of corporal punishment. It was carried out by conducting a questionnaire survey among elementary school students across the geographic spectrum of Barbados. It was not representative of the total age group of 10-11 year olds, however, as the top academic stream was used to ensure capacity for selfadministration of the questionnaire. Three-quarters of these students generally approved use of such punishment within the school at their age level; they thought it less appropriate for younger children and for secondary students. While one-third thought it was used “too often” in school, approximately half thought the current practices were “about right”. In terms of incidence, only 6.6% of the total population surveyed (125 boys


and 165 girls) had never been flogged/caned in school; a slightly higher percentage (15.9%) reported never being flogged at home. There was a pervasive belief among these students that discipline could not be maintained within the school setting without corporal punishment, although there were mediating conditions noted: ▪ The majority of students approved caning/flogging by all teachers rather than the legally prescribed head teacher or designated senior teacher; this seemed to be related to the belief that the head teachers were “too hard” on them. ▪ Some reasons for flogging were more acceptable than others; it was strongly approved for such infractions as cursing and bad language, being rude and unmannerly to teachers, fighting and stealing and not doing homework, and less supported for infractions such as not paying attention in class or not completing class work, doing badly in exams or arriving late to school. ▪ Boys reported more frequent floggings than girls but the differences were not significant. The authors tentatively suggest that the lower incidence of flogging at home than at school may indicate changing attitudes of parents to corporal punishment, which is frequently debated in public fora. They also speculate that a survey among children in the lower academic streams might produce different (and probably lower) levels of support for corporal punishment based on the premise that children who are achieving less well may be more frequent recipients of the practice, and because the children surveyed believed that the practice deterred well-behaved children more effectively than reforming those who misbehave. They noted that there were few alternatives suggested when students were asked what the best punishments for their age group would be apart from flogging/ caning; detention, standing in uncomfortable positions and “writing lines” were the only suggestions recommended by more than just a few children.

A general lack of knowledge on the part of students, parents and teachers of effective alternatives to corporal punishment was noted here (as in other reports reviewed); the authors reported that a few head teachers in Barbados have abolished corporal punishment altogether in their schools despite the prevailing climate of support for it, but with mixed results. It was noted that when staff are not supportive of this change, or sufficiently prepared for it, other undesirable strategies such as verbal ridicule may be employed. «­» There is little information available on the extent of disciplinary measures used for Caribbean children under age six. The Profiles Project (reported in section 1 above) provided the first report of parental use of corporal punishment in a representative national sample of pre-school children. Responses were obtained from 193 parents to questionnaires about the disciplinary methods used in their homes (14). The instrument used was a parental self report using a classification system of the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale, the most commonly used international instrument to measure parental disciplinary practices. Modifications were made to add categories unique to Jamaica: e.g. “giving a look”, spiting (withholding love or goods to punish), “undressing to underwear” (humiliation, to keep inside), holding uncomfortable positions, and threatening that someone will take them away (policemen, authority figure). The respondents were 71% mothers, 6.4% fathers, 10.4% grandparents (mostly grandmother) in 11.5% others, chiefly females. The type of discipline used for small children did not vary by social class, suggesting that differences in educational attainment and parent stress were not important in determining methods of discipline. ▪ 28% reported corrective methods such as explaining, coun-

selling, time-out or isolation were most commonly used (nonviolent methods) ▪ 25.4% reported shouting or scolding, threats (psychological aggression) ▪ 46.6% reported spanking and beating (physical assault) Although the commonest method of discipline was the third one, physical assault, all the actual measures described but one were in the minor assault category, only one was in the severe assault category (tying a child’s hand behind his back), and none in the very severe assault category. However, parents are less likely to report severe methods of discipline used, possibly underestimating this component. Compared with a previous study (8) the use of corporal punishment appears to have decreased over time. However, the extent and frequency of corporal punishment use in the home remains unacceptably high given the known consequences. In Jamaica, children are loved and desired by their parents and the society, but parents also hold in high regard a well-behaved child, and feel that they have failed in parenting when their children misbehave (4). This occurs whether children are boys or girls. Psychological aggression, experienced by at least two-thirds of children in a week in the form of shouting or scolding, is not without consequences. It has been suggested that threatening punishment has its own negative psychological consequences (14) but when combined with physical punishment is the worse combination of child abuse and neglect (17). Other forms of psychological aggression can be expected to have their own negative psychological consequences, such as impairment of self-esteem. Ricketts and Anderson (18) found that younger children experience more corporal punishment than older children. In a recent summary of the data on corporal punishment at home and at school from Jamaica’s cohort study, it is clear that harsh physical discipline continues from the preschool years into the primary school period,

both at home and at school (15) . Although the large sample of cohort children (1720) was between ages 11 and 12, the children were reporting lifetime experiences as well as those experienced in the past four weeks: “Overall, 97.2% of Jamaican children reported a lifetime experience of verbal aggression or violence resulting from a conflict with adults within their home; 82.3% reported verbal aggression, 87.4% minor violence and 84.8% severe violence”. Boys and girls experienced these events equally. “Disobedience was the main cause of conflict, reported by 73.5% of all children. Lying, answering back, fighting, and poor school-work accounted for 21%, 20.7%, 17.9% and 11.0% of conflicts respectively. Arguments with siblings accounted for 2.9% of conflicts.” Almost three-quarters of the children reported that their mothers were the ones responsible for administering discipline. The same study reports 86.2% of the children experiencing verbal or physical violence at school, with boys in this setting experiencing more such treatment than girls. Disturbing the class (46.9%), disobedience (33.1%, poor school work/no homework (26.4%) were the primary reasons given. Samms-Vaughan posits that, as shown in other studies, “teachers administer corporal punishment in schools with the knowledge that parents would have behaved similarly had they been present”. In schools with children from higher SES, verbal aggression is used more than physical, again likely reflecting the practices within higher SES homes. The benefits and consequences of corporal punishment have been well identified elsewhere, and were recently reviewed by Gershoff (16) who examined 88 studies concerned with corporal punishment of children conducted over a period of 62 years. While corporal punishment allows immediate cessation of an unwanted behaviour, it does not allow the development of moral reasoning. The longterm goal of parents is that children continue to comply in the future and in their absence, i.e. to internalize moral norms and social rules. Gershoff found corporal punishment to be associated overall with decreases in children’s moral internalization, operationalised

as their long-term compliance, their feelings of guilt following misbehaviour, and their tendencies to make reparations upon harming others. There is a strong association between parental corporal punishment and parental physical abuse of these same children, confirming fears of many researchers that corporal punishment and physical abuse are closely linked. The consequences of corporal punishment are myriad and include aggressive and violent behaviour in childhood and adulthood; anti-social, delinquent and criminal behaviour; depression and poor self-esteem; an impaired parentchild relationship; and involvement in domestic violence and physical abuse of children as adults. However, Gershoff also summarises what cannot be concluded from these studies: ▪ Most of these studies are correlational—showing associations between variables. They cannot be used to claim direct causation. Thus such factors as child behaviours/temperaments that may elicit more corporal punishment, or the effects of parental inconsistent discipline may contribute to causation of such adult outcomes such as adult aggression, criminality, mental health problems, abuse of one’s own children. ▪ The results of these studies cannot be applied to other disciplinary methods, such as time-out or withdrawal of privileges. Effective parenting includes firm and consistent punishment for misbehaviours, and thus the results of these analyses should not be construed as suggesting that parents should refrain from all forms of punishment. Indeed, a permissive parenting style devoid of any punishments is likely to increase, not decrease, children’s noncompliant and antisocial behaviours. Further research into parental and child factors associated with corporal punishment and the consequences of its use in the Caribbean are necessary to develop more targeted intervention strategies.


Some questions arising for further discussion in Section 4: 1. Are discipline practices changing within the Caribbean? Are there age or gender differences (in parents or children) in these practices? 2. Do we have hard evidence of the impact of degrees of physical punishment (or any other forms of punishment) on Caribbean children? In the home? In school settings? 3. What are the social/cultural factors most resistant to adopting less harsh discipline practices? 4. How do children perceive the discipline they receive? Section 4: References (1) Clarke, E. (1957) My Mother Who Fathered Me. George Allen and Unwin Ltd. (2) Cohen, Y. (1955) Character formation and social structure in a Jamaican community. Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes, # 18 (3) Grant, D. R. B. (1980) Life Style Study: Children of the Lesser World in the English Speaking Caribbean. The Bernard van Leer Foundation, Project for Early Childhood Education. (4) Evans, H. (1989) Perspectives on the Socialisation of the Working Class Jamaican Child, Social and Economic Studies Vol 38, #3 (5) Leo-Rhynie, E. (1993) The Jamaican Family: Continuity and Change, Grace Kennedy Foundation Lecture (6) Arnold, E. (1982) The Use of Corporal Punishment in Child Rearing in the West Indies, in Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 6 (7) Payne, M. (1989) Use and Abuse of Corporal Punishment: A Caribbean View, in Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 13, pp 389-401 (8) Grantham-McGregor, S, Landman, J and Desai, P (1983), Child rearing in poor urban Jamaica, in Child: care, health and development, 1983, 9, 57-71.


(9) Samms-Vaughan, M. (2004) Profiles: The Jamaican Preschool Child: The status of early childhood development in Jamaica Planning Institute of Jamaica (10) Rohner, R, Kean, K and Cournoyer, D. (1991) Effects of Corporal Punishment, Perceived Caretaker Warmth, and Cultural Beliefs on the Psychological Adjustment of Children in St. Kitts, West Indies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, August, 681-693. (11) Payne, M. and Furnham, A. (1992) Parental Self-reports of Child Rearing Practices in the Caribbean. The Journal of Black Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 2 (12) Morrison, J., Ispa, J. and Milner, V. (1998) Ideas about Child Rearing among Jamaican Mothers and Early Childhood Education Teachers. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 12, No. 2, 166-175 (13) Anderson, S and Payne, M.(1994) Corporal Punishment in Elementary Education: Views of Barbadian School Children, in Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol 18, No. 4 (14) Samms-Vaughan, M., Williams, S., Brown, J. (2005) Disciplinary Practices among Parents of Six Year Olds in Jamaica in Caribbean Childhoods: Journal of the Children’s Issues Coalition, Vol. 2 (15) Samms-Vaughan, M. (2005) A Comprehensive Analysis of Jamaican Children’s Exposure to Violence at 11 – 12 Years. PAHO. (16) Gershoff, E. (2002), Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behaviors and Experiences: A MetaAnalytic and Theoretical Review. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 128, No. 4 (17) Vissing, Y. Straus,M., Gelles, R. and Harrop, J. Verbal aggression by parents and psychological problems of children. Child Abuse and Neglect 15 (1991) pp. 223238. (18) Ricketts, H. and Anderson, P. (2005) Executive Summary of Parenting in Jamaica: A Study conducted on behalf of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (to be published)



The description ‘ vulnerable’ has been used in the region to describe displaced and immigrant children, including illegal immigrants; indigenous children; minority populations; children with special needs; children living in geographically remote areas; children affected/infected by HIV/AIDS and children affected by violence. In this section, the review has had access mainly to studies undertaken in Jamaica; we have yet to source research studies in this broad area from elsewhere in the Caribbean. The ChIC data bank on children at risk in Jamaica (1) dealt with data about incidence of poverty among children, and examined studies related to children and violence (their exposure to and as victims of) in home, school and community settings, as well as incidence of types of


child abuse. Another ChIC data bank segment dealt with the vulnerabilities consequent on various physical and cognitive disabilities. Since the ChIC work was undertaken, work has been developing on the ways in which very young children are affected by HIV/ AIDS. Poverty We need only to re-state here that conditions of poverty in which 15 - 40% of Caribbean children live, increase their vulnerability on many fronts, as they are more likely to live in single parent or surrogate parent households, overcrowded conditions, within violent communities served by poor preschool and other social and educational services, and to experience greater health and environmental risks, eventually repeating the cycle of poverty through child-bearing. A few relevant studies citing characteristics of poverty as factors influencing childrearing have been identified in the preceding sections. Studies in the developed world have shown that early interventions can have measurably greater benefits for poorer children. We do not have studies that demonstrate this comparison in the Caribbean. Child abuse A review of 70 research studies and reports supported by interviews with 50 persons and agencies in Jamaica (2) on the incidence of sexual violence and abuse of children was undertaken in 1999. The pervasive nature of child abuse in the Jamaican society at all levels is depicted, and a connection made between the early experience of child sexual abuse and the completion of a journey that leads to commercial sex and other exploitative experiences in later life. Sexual violence towards children has been defined by SammsVaughan (3) as “any interaction between a child and an adult in which the child is used for the sexual gratification of the adult, or


another”. Forms of sexual violence which are common and for which data has been collected in Jamaica include bribery for sexual favours, fondling, attempted sexual intercourse or completed sexual intercourse. These forms constitute abuse which can be physical or emotional in impact, or both. Amongst the risk factors which are identified as promoting general child abuse of young children within the family are specific factors which have emerged in cases of sexual abuse. Whilst it is not possible to estimate the extent to which these factors are present in every case, they are sufficiently numerous to be familiar to both health and social work agencies working with children. They include: ▪ the man who perpetrates sexual abuse with a young virgin in the belief that this will purge him of sexually transmitted disease (this practice predates AIDS); ▪ the father who believes that it is his obligation to introduce his girl child to sexual activity rather than another man; ▪ the mother who has formed a union with a man who is not the biological father of her girl child; ▪ the child who has been “shifted” to live with a grandparent or other relative in order to avoid the stresses of a new stepparenting relationship, and/or to reduce the burdens of child care on a single mother, to facilitate migration or to provide companionship or household labour for an older relative (2, citing interview with Samms-Vaughan). Professionals working with children who have been sexually abused look for these characteristics in a child’s life and question: ▪ Is the child often being left with adults that she does not know? ▪ Does the family seem to gather “aunts” and “uncles” with whom the child appears uncomfortable? ▪ Is the child quiet in their presence although, when questioned, defensive about them? ▪ Is the child aware that incest is wrong or has she not (yet) been exposed to the peer group conversations with other girls who are fortunate enough


to determine the timing and the companion for their first sexual experience? ▪ Is it a revelation to the child to learn that adult males do not have a right of access to her body? ▪ Is the child’s wider community unforthcoming or contradictory in its messages on the issue? ▪ Do we as adults make it possible for children to tell us what is happening to them? Do we believe what children tell us? ▪ Do we anticipate that children can be caught up in an enclosed inner world of myth and superstition, believing that there is no alternative? It is extremely difficult to identify a range of characteristics related to the incidence of sexual abuse for boys. The view has been expressed by many of those interviewed that boys are under greater social pressure to deny the reality of abuse. One common risk factor identified is the presence of young female “helpers” (or maids) in the home, women who molest young boys in experiences that terrify them. A common form of denial of this form of abuse and its terrors is for young boys to boast about the experience in school the next day (2). Homosexual encounters are simply not reported. The society is intolerant of homosexuality at any age, even in the case of an exploitative experience by a boy child. No one, not the perpetrator nor the child, wants to be called a “battyman”. As for children fabricating stories of sexual encounters, it is estimated that less than 5% will create such stories , and these are usually set up for the child by a parent in a custody battle (2, citing Samms-Vaughan). «­» In a study (3) of the experiences of childhood of a group of young women of child bearing age attending three well-baby clinics in Kingston, women were asked if they could recall experiences of childhood physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and emotional and physical neglect. Questions on child-


hood sexual experiences were limited to those perpetrated by an adult within the child’s home. Sexual abuse was determined by the presence of any of the four forms of sexual abuse; 6.4% of women reported being fondled, 5.8% reported attempted forceful sexual intercourse, 3.8% had attempts at sexual intercourse by bribery, and 0.6% had completed sexual intercourse. Child abuse in all its forms was shown to be prevalent in Jamaica, affecting more than two-thirds of the female population, in contrast to the numbers reported. "Yet over the 18 month period, July 1991 to December 1992, only 658 cases of child abuse were reported island-wide among the childhood population of 800,000. The majority of these cases (84%) were reported in females. Among females, 14% of the abuse was physical, with 86% sexual.” (3) The study’s authors recognise that a significant limitation of the study was its inability to report on the experiences of boys. However “Low reported cases of abuse among males is not felt to be due to low prevalence, but rather to a reduced ability to identify abuse, particularly sexual abuse, in boys”. The pervasive nature of child abuse in the Jamaican society is shown in this study, reflecting high levels of all forms of abuse in this “relatively socially advantaged population of Jamaican women” in a clinical sample. "This points to the importance of the use of non-clinical samples in future to identify the more widespread nature of abusive experiences of children”. «­» The accumulation of local child abuse records, and details about the perpetrators of this type of violence began in a structured way in Jamaica in July 1991. Dr. Milbourne’s analysis of the results of data collection between July 1991 and December 1995 (4) is important for two reasons: first, because it is the only data we have to contextualise the incidence of sexual violence against children in the country and secondly, because since 1995 the system of data collection across agencies has broken down. During the re-


porting period, data were collected from 2,227 abused children and adolescents, 64% of whom were between the ages of 5 and 14 years. 79% of the child victims were female and 21% were male. 55% of the reported cases were children who had been sexually abused; only 5% of these 1228 children were boys. The majority of girls in Milbourne’s data were sexually abused (76%) compared to a minority of the boys (16%). However, this figure of 16% is significant even with gross under reporting. “We are aware that caregivers are reluctant to bring these little boys forward, fearing that they will be identified as homosexuals and leaving them open to the risk of continued abuse and infection from sexually transmitted disease”(4). Almost half of the boys were between the ages of 5 and 9 years, whereas less than a third of the girls were in the same age range. Sexual abuse of boys emerged as a phenomenon amongst pre-pubescent children, in contrast with the prevalence of sexual abuse amongst girls in adolescence. Both Milbourne and Samms-Vaughan identify the double bind for boys: reporting sexual abuse exposes them potentially to greater risks than non reporting; non-reporting renders their experience both silent and invisible at a period in their early childhood when they are least able to articulate their feelings or put any distance between themselves and the perpetrators. What of the perpetrators of sexual abuse? In the same study, “the majority were male (82%) between the ages of 20 and 49 years and were known to their victims”. More than this, the data “identify males who are not related to their victims as the main perpetrators”. Samms-Vaughan (3) identified that the majority of these perpetrators had a history themselves of abuse and neglect. Since the 1986 case studies by Eldemire (8) on incest in Jamaica, there has been almost no research attention given to this “iceberg”. At the time that the data were collected, Dr. Milbourne noted the vigilant role of the media in assisting the collaborating agencies to maintain a focus on the experiences of the abused children and their families. «­»


Handwerker (22) examining violence as a property of social relationships more than of individual or social circumstances, posits that the power-relationships between the partners strongly affected the protection from or exposure to domestic violence for the children within the family. Powerful women, the study describes, protect their children from violence, treating them affectionately and eliciting affection for them from their men. “By contrast, men battered powerless women, and the children of powerless women. Powerless women battered their own children”. «­» Amongst the long term effects of sexual abuse as children is the loss of trust in others and the loss of sense of self. Children may never have had the experience of trust in others or sense of self at any time in their lives previous to being sexually abused. This is particularly the case for boys, given the evidence of sexual abuse before the age of 9 years and as young as 5. When such losses (of trust, of sense of self) occur before or instead of identifiable gains, this then is not the landscape of loss as such but completely different territory. One researcher (2) was struck by the efforts of persons interviewed (in the study on sexual exploitation of children) to find a different language for describing this territory that does not diminish its horror for those who know it intimately or overstate its significance amongst other horrors. She was told the following: “sexual exploitation isn’t seen as all that horrible”, “sex is the least of the horrors that happens to children” and “who’s worried about sex and AIDS when at any moment on any day your life can end at the hands of a gun man or gun boy?" “We don’t talk with children about our sexuality", Sarah NewlandMartin stated in the same study. This point echoes the concern expressed by Payne and Furnham (Section1) that many parents


seemed unwilling to admit having difficulty in this area and they suggest that it is a crucial issue for further study(9). Two themes for further research and understanding emerged from the interviews conducted. One is the need to understand how children who have been abused sexually see and experience their sexuality both now and as they mature into adulthood. Another is the need to locate that understanding within the specific experience of the Jamaican [Caribbean] people, historically, economically, socially and culturally. HIV/AIDS In 2003, an assessment of children affected by HIV/AIDS was designed as a pre-intervention community needs assessment in two communities in Western Jamaica (5). The overall aim was to determine the current family and community support needs for children affected by HIV/AIDS in the birth to eight years age group, both met and unmet, ascertaining community preparedness or willingness to engage in active responses to the growing presence of HIV/ AIDS. This was an exploratory cross - sectional qualitative design assessment, using focus group discussions and key informant interviews. In total 12 focus groups and 12 key informant interviews were conducted. Fear and worry over the epidemic were expressed. Some participants were afraid of associating with persons living with AIDS for fear of the community’s reaction. All the parents felt the need for more information. They expressed that the lack of information about the disease stops persons from getting involved in any aspect of HIV/AIDS care and prevention. There was talk about child sexual abuse and the vulnerability of children. Participants felt that ‘even in the household men do this to their children’. Most of the participants agreed that the school is the place to start. ‘Education is the key’. It was felt that it is important to teach children the dangers and consequences of getting involved sexually, so that they can better deal with sex when they become adults.


Most of the professionals thought that infected children between birth and 8 years were not really aware of the disease, but just know that they are sick. Further, they do not usually get medication or proper nutrition and, for many, ‘the family gives up and instead just saves for the funeral’. Among responses received was that these children should be placed in a home. Some said that family members should take care of them, whilst others felt that the church could take responsibility. Only a few expressed that these children should be accepted and treated like normal children. The parents agreed that it is going to take time for the community to accept the realities of this epidemic. Teachers felt that the government should take responsibility for these children when the parents are not capable. Some also felt that members of the community should embrace the idea that “it takes an entire village to care”. However, the professionals felt that infected children generally get more sympathy than parents. Most of the children, they feel, know where to turn in the community for help when they need something, especially the slightly older ones. However, some believe that most of these children are not in school and are kept at home. Since the family is not sure how long life is for the children, they are not given education nor the opportunity to have a normal life. The professionals also stated that they knew of persons in the community who would refuse to send their children to a school where there is a child with HIV/AIDS. They stated that most people feel a lot of fear and more information needs to be given. Two spoke of instances in the community where there was discrimination against the children infected with HIV/AIDS. Participants were hesitant in answering the question, “would you play with a child who is positive?” expressing fear and worry that they could catch the virus by casual contact. Some of them felt that doctors, government and communities should take responsibility for infected children. There was general support for a policy at the national level and that all children get an education irre-


spective of their HIV status. Instances of children being turned away from school because they are infected were shared. Up to the present, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been largely seen as an “adult” problem, sexually transmitted (primarily) and requiring adult precautions and changed behaviours to arrest it. Yet most adults who die of the disease leave children who are affected, if not infected. The growing numbers of children orphaned by one or both parents is testimony to this fact. Unfortunately there is generally scanty understanding of what constitutes healthy child development, and particularly healthy emotional development, among the Jamaican adult population. This is even particularly so for those with limited education. Children are seen as “resilient”, they can bounce back from trauma, they can “tough it out” (as high levels of corporal punishment seem to attest). When adults themselves are traumatized by an HIV+ diagnosis, are in depression and anxiety about their own future as well as the future of their children, their children’s needs-to understand what is going on, for reassurance, for participation in solutions--are not always sufficiently considered. How children face death—of a parent, of a sibling, or their own, has not yet seriously exercised Jamaica as a nation, particularly in relation to HIV/AIDS, and yet studies (6,7) point to the links between traumatic experiences of children and their levels of aggression, violence, depression, and even suicide. Stories from participants about children who are stigmatized because of the illness of an adult family member, stood in stark contrast to the descriptions of perceived needs of all children for love, acceptance, support, especially those facing serious family illness and loss. The authors (5) reflect: “Perhaps assumptions about the “old-time” traditions of community caring for orphans or children in dire need have defended many persons against facing the sheer numbers of children who will eventually be in need of such care as the epidemic proceeds. It may not be until


the epidemic is seen as affecting everyone, as bringing grief and need to every community, as eventually decimating the care systems, the education systems, the economic capacity of the country to manage, that children’s needs will become more central to the problem-solving efforts and community and national responses. After all, it will be those children in the long run who will have to deal with the devastating fallout as the epidemic runs its course. But if we wait that long, it will very likely be too late.” The respondents in the needs assessment identified in their responses the profound gap between their desire to provide care and their (felt) capacity to do so. The responses addressed in greater detail their concerns about management of care than the need to provide the highest quality early stimulation, learning and development activities for children affected. Family members, parents, care-givers and teachers alike were unanimous in feeling overwhelmed, unprepared or untrained to assume responsibility for care and education of children affected. In particular, family members expressed that they had received no ongoing support beyond the talks given by the nurses attending to them at the clinics. They indicated that although they were given information they were unsure of what to do when they went home. Information is insufficient; there needs to be reliable, ongoing support and services at community level. Parents need help to access early learning services for their children and to gain confidence in participating in their children’s learning. Little is known about parenting practices in relation to children with HIV/AIDS; this is an area for further study. Exposure to Violence Urban poverty, the menacingly growing drug trade and historical politically motivated crimes have combined in many (primarily) urban centres across the region, to expose children to high levels of violence as well as engage them as victims and even perpetrators of violence (10). In Jamaica, approximately 40% of murder victims were between the ages of 13 and 25 in 1996; in 1999


youth under age 17 were responsible for 11% of all major crimes and 10% of all murders (11). Several significant studies have been conducted by UWI (Mona) on children and violence. One which examined attitudes and experiences of secondary school students ages 9 – 17 in relation to violence (12) raises implications for earlier ages and circumstances in which such attitudes are formed: ▪ Behaviours classed as violence were verbal insults (36%), child abuse (86%) and hurting someone in self-defense (38%). ▪ Hurting animals was acceptable, “normal”. ▪ Most children thought it wrong to hit, insult, verbally abuse or push others out of anger, but the majority (75%) thought a person unwilling to fight would be susceptible to teasing and taunting. ▪ 50% of the students reported having been threatened with physical violence and 22% had been victims of it. ▪ Only 28% of the student respondents within this representative sample of Kingston secondary schools believed their neighbourhoods were “very safe”; 22% felt they were “a little unsafe” while 14% described their neighbourhoods as “very unsafe”. ▪ Males worried more about violence than females. «­» Younger children in another sub-study (13) of very poor children ages 8-10 attending a UWI clinic were asked open-ended questions about what happens at home, school and in specific problem situations, and about the social roles of significant individuals in their lives. In addition to their verbal responses, their physiological responses (heart rate and salivary cortisol) were measured. The results showed high exposure levels to violence in all spheres of their lives. 91% directly mentioned violent or aggressive responses to at least one of the 12 questions, with peers, parents, teachers and principals the perpetrators. Punishment at home and at school was mostly physical. Low-socioeconomic status, harsh parental discipline, large family arrangements, lack of supervision from parents,


marital instability/divorce and lack of parental warmth were identified as factors contributing to aggressive behaviour in children (14). “Bullying” at home is often accompanied by bullying in school and community environments, resulting in total “cultures of violence” for many children. One of the largest studies of family and school determinants of aggression in children was conducted in Jamaica (14) using several instruments to compare aggressive and prosocial boys in Grades 5 and 6 on a broad range of individual and family variables, and seeking to find whether and how differences in school environments related to levels of aggression. The results have significant implications: ▪ There were significant differences between the two groups in terms of age, parental union status, socioeconomic status, parents’ occupations and school uniform quality. ▪ Aggressive boys were older than pro-social boys. ▪ Fewer mothers of aggressive boys were married; aggressive boys experienced less parental supervision. ▪ Parents of aggressive boys had lower-skill occupations and lower housing quality. ▪ Aggressive children were more likely to have lower ambitions, lower verbal IQ’s, and lower achievement scores; they also produced more aggressive responses in their interpretations of peer situations. ▪ The study concluded with a list of risk factors that heightened the likelihood of belonging to the aggressive group: a boy’s experience of and attitude to violence, degree of corporal punishment, crowding in the home, school achievement, and school uniform (as a proxy of SES and parental interest). Unfortunately, this major study tells us only about boys, only about urban settings and only about children already in school, begging questions that can only be answered by a similar study of a more representative national sample, and one which examines


the risk factors for younger children within varied settings, thus closer in age to the origins of aggressive patterns of behaviour. Childhood Disabilities Children with disabilities generally suffer more than just their disabling condition. They are often neglected and stigmatized by adults and children alike, are often socially isolated, seen more as burdens than blessings to their families, and not uncommonly abandoned to the care of the State. They are also under-studied compared to “normal” children. The ChIC data base, however, reviewed 38 studies/reports concerning children with visual, hearing, physical or mental impairments, or combinations of these. Two thirds of these were primarily the work of Dr. Marigold Thorburn alone or in concert with other colleagues. The full review covers prevalence studies, prevention and risk factors, service needs and services, issues related to screening, and community and family based rehabilitation. For the purposes of this paper, we look only at those studies that relate directly to or impinge on child-rearing. One (15) surveyed supernatural beliefs about the causes of disabling conditions; the majority of respondents were in the 20-40 age range and from the teaching and health care professions. 46% of this stratified sample of 898 male and female respondents in five age groups and 12 occupational groups agreed with the statement “God gave us handicapped children to show our charity”, and there was approximately 18% agreement of the sample (more in youngest and oldest age groups) to the following: ▪ “A disabled child is a punishment for a sin”; ▪ “Some cases of disability are caused by evil spirits”; ▪ “If a pregnant woman sees a handicapped person her child will be disabled”. The implications for acceptance and for help-seeking by parents when 22% of health workers agreed with these statements are obvious. These beliefs contribute to some parents hiding their children and denying them access to either educational or rehabilitative services.


«­» A major screening study conducted in Jamaica (and in nine other countries)(16) used a simple identifying screening method for mental retardation, and resulted in a further multi-country collaboration to develop low-cost instruments for detecting children with disabilities and for assessing the impact of these disabilities on their families (16). This major epidemiological study in Jamaica surveyed 10,000 children ages 2 through 8 in Clarendon, Jamaica. The details of this major study do not concern us here, but the resultant prevalence of just under 10% for all degrees of disabilities and 1.1% of severe disabilities is relevant, as these figures represent thousands of families which must deal with these realities. A 2005 World Bank analysis of household surveys from nine developing countries including Jamaica found on average between 1 and 2 percent of the population with a disability. While not all were poor, young persons with disabilities were substantially less likely to start school, and many had lower transition rates resulting in lower schooling attainment. The disability carried more weight in school non-participation than gender, rural residence or SES. (23) «­» An early review of assessment referrals of the Early Stimulation Project in Jamaica (20) (geared primarily towards mental retardation) examined aetiology of the disabling conditions brought for assessment. The results indicated a high percentage (up to 50%) were of prenatal and perinatal origins, pointing to the need for preventative measures. In a study by Thorburn, Ford and Brown (17) physical disabilities were the focus in children from birth through eight in Jamaica,


with overall prevalence estimated to be 9.4%. A section of this study addressed the effects of prevailing cultural attitudes and childrearing practices on dealing with disabilities. The high cultural value placed on physical appearance was seen as leading to negative practices and even abuse; in contrast, common early routines with infants such as exercising, massaging and stretching muscles may in fact be good therapy for children with motor impairments. «­» The section on community based rehabilitation (CBR) is relevant to this review, as these programmes—the bulk of services offered in the Caribbean for children with disabilities—rely heavily on training parents and other home-based caregivers in basic home-care activities, and date back to the mid-70s. Few elements of these programmes have been thoroughly evaluated, although one assessment of parents’ views of a CBR programme proved very positive and many parents felt their knowledge and attitudes had changed for the better as a result of their participation in the programme. However, a 1999 Thorburn (18) study reports that 24% of children with disabilities do not live with their mothers and higher percentages of fathers were absent; there have been no specific studies on the child-rearing practices of parents of children with disabilities. «­» In the ChIC review of research on childhood disabilities the recommendation section pointed to the almost total absence of the thoughts, feelings and attitudes of children themselves—either children with disabilities or children about such children. There is also very little work to date on how specific disabilities are perceived and managed within family or community settings.


Some questions arising for further discussion from Section 5: 1. Do we need to undertake studies that can demonstrate the benefits of early interventions with poorer children? 2. To what extent do cultural factors/mythologies influence incidence of sexual abuse/exploitation of young children? 3. How are young boys and girls prepared/protected (or not) against sexual exploitation? 4. How do children who have been abused sexually see and experience their sexuality both now and as they mature into adulthood? 5. How do we locate our understanding of sexual abuse within historical, economic, social and cultural contexts? 6. What are the Caribbean responses to rising HIV/AIDS statistics, especially as they concern young children either affected or infected (As noted in Health Section)? 7. How are our young children facing death? (of their parents/ friends/their own?) 8. How much are young children exposed to “bullying” within preschool/school settings? How is bullying handled by school authorities, parents? 9. Recent studies of children’s exposure/experiences of violence have focused primarily on boys in urban settings; what do we know of girls’ experiences? Of rural children’s experiences? 10. Can we relate child aggression to parenting behaviours/styles? 11. What myths/attitudes contribute to the stigmatization of children with disabilities? 12. What prenatal preventive measures are/should be in place to reduce the incidence of disabling conditions traced to prenatal/perinatal conditions/care? What in fact do we know about the thoughts of children in relation to any of the issues raised in the sections of this paper?


This next section is provided for the benefit of research students and practitioners who have interest in methodological design, and in methods which have been tested within the Caribbean in the area of child development and child-rearing practices. Cautions about cross-study validity and reliability are raised, particularly in comparing across countries and cultures. The final section of the Roopnarine

SECTION 6: METHODOLOGIES In this section a selection of the methodologies for the research studies conducted and described in the sections on the main findings above are reviewed. In some cases the authors of research studies have indicated the limitations of the methodologies used and either explicitly or implicitly indicated the need for further research using different methodologies, or a combination of approaches. In some cases, a particular instrument has been shown to be valuable (perhaps as the only one of its kind) but to have limited use as it has not been normed on a sufficiently large population in one country in the region or in a number of countries. Grantham-McGregor (1) et al used questionnaires and developmental assessments in the 1983 study. A detailed, wide ranging questionnaire originally designed in the UK (Tupling and Tillot 1972) was modified and expanded for the Jamaican study. “It was designed to elicit responses about the social background of the family, the children’s games, play materials, social contacts, the


mothers’ opinions about their children’s play, and other factors in the child’s environment”. One interviewer administered the questionnaire with all parents. Most of the questions were open-ended. The sample of children had their developmental levels assessed with the Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales for Young Children (Griffiths 1970) using the following subgroups: hearing and speech, hand and eye, performance and practical reasoning. Although it was not possible to comment on the actual level of the children’s development as the Griffiths was not standardized or designed for Jamaica, the test had been standardized in the UK so that groups of children obtained similar scores on each subscale. Relatively low scores of the Jamaican children on the performance subscale “may have been associated with the lack of importance attached to play and toys”. The authors address the heart of the problem of research into childrearing when they state: “A major problem with mothers’ accounts of their behaviour is that there may be an important gap between what they say and what they actually do. Where possible, responses were checked by direct observations, and questions were often asked about the same topic in more than one way. However, we consider these responses are likely to reflect what the mothers think about child rearing as much as their practices” (1983:67) There is a need in the burgeoning projects aimed at improving parenting practices and providing stimulation of children below the age of three years for a tool that can screen and assess developmental progress of children. Evaluation of these project approaches is limited without such a tool. «­» Payne and Furnham (2) conclude that “in societies where few, if any, systematic large-scale surveys of child rearing beliefs have yet been conducted” the Block child rearing prac


tices report has the potential to function usefully as a tool for exploratory research. It cannot be used to provide a comprehensive and definitive picture of local parental attitudes or practices, but may serve to highlight issues which require more indepth investigation….While it may be worthwhile to try to develop indigenous instruments of this kind, there also seems to be a place for experimenting with those developed in major industrialized societies since the belief systems and lifestyle aspirations characteristic of the latter are assuming prominence within many developing countries” (1992:32) The authors express cautious support for the assumption that parental responses to such instruments can be taken as a direct reflection of their actual parenting practices. There would have been some limitations arising from the fact that the instrument required the respondent to be able to read and complete it alone if necessary; sometimes the instrument was left with the parent and collected on completion 24 hours later. They also identify certain items needing clarification and possibly re-construction, and point out that more needs to be understood of the instrument’s psychometric properties. They mention a critique of such instruments by Holden and Edwards (3) that should be reviewed if this instrument and others like it are to be used. «­» Written questionnaires completed by parents were used in Payne’s study of the use and abuse of corporal punishment (4). Respondents were asked to list their perceptions of the possible advantages and/or disadvantages of corporal punishment, and then to check whether they generally approved or generally disapproved of its use by parents. There were extended questions to be answered depending on initial responses given, and additional space provided for recording further observations. The questionnaires were administered by a team of fully briefed undergraduates from UWI and circulated to respondents from both manual and non manual occupations. Questionnaires were left for completion and the requirements fully explained. Instruments were completed anonymously and collected after a period of several days, producing a 95% return rate. As with the previous study, (2) there would have been some limitations arising from the fact that the instrument required the respondent to be able to read and complete it autonomously. «­»


Both adult and child self-reports provided a baseline for Rohner et al’s study of 300 children ages 9 to 16 in St Kitts (5); in addition 100 children and one of their parents/primary caregivers were interviewed for approximately one hour. The physical punishment questionnaire (PPQ) was constructed and validated specifically for use in St. Kitts. It is a self report measure of the frequency, severity and incidence (i.e. the number of times children reported receiving specific forms of punishment in the last two weeks) of seven major forms of physical punishment experienced by chil dren there. These include spanking, slapping, cuffing, thumping, burning, shoving and beating with an implement. The PPQ also asks children to cite the principal reasons why their main caretakers punish them. The most relevant scales for the research are the frequency and severity scales to which the young people respond on a 4point Likert-like scale ranging from “very often/very hard” to “almost never/not at all”. An earlier pilot study of the PPQ in St. Kitts showed the scales to be reliable. The young peoples’ perceptions of caretaker acceptance/rejection were measured by the child version of the Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ) used in more than 80 countries and the psychological adjustment of the young people was assessed by the child version of the Personality Assessment Questionnaire (PAQ) (Rohner 1989). Both instruments were piloted in St. Kitts and deemed to be psychometrically sound and appropriate for use in cross-cultural settings. Data in this research were analysed primarily through structural equation modeling analysis. The research reported on in this study was embedded in a larger ethnographic and quantitative study going on in St. Kitts since 1984. The intention of sample-selection procedures was to “allow one to generalize to the approximately 6,000 9-16 year old school children and their families in the country.” «­» The Block Child Rearing Practices Report was used in an adapted and selective form for the Jamaican study (6) of 50 teachers and 68 parents (selected by the teachers). Also used was an adaptation of the rank-order of parental values developed by Kohn (1977) as revised by Schaefer and Edgerton (1985), the Parental Modernity Scale (also Schaefer and Edgerton 1985) and the Parent Attitude Research Instrument (Schaefer and Bell, 1958). The questionnaire combining items from these sources were


distributed through the schools, and by teachers to parents (the means by which teachers selected parent respondents is not known). The return rate was 94% for teachers, 75% for parents. The final sample of parents was made up of 63 mothers, none of whom had less than completed high school education. Just under one half of the parents had university degrees – clearly a very different sample from one drawn from the urban poor. «­» I In her review of studies undertaken over a 40 year period on the socialisation of working class Jamaican children, (7) Evans states that the majority are surveys “employing questionnaires and yielding quantitative data on aggregates and averages. There are only a few ethnographic/anthropological studies” and these are not specified: “The majority of the research focuses on processes – e.g. child rearing techniques, or aspects of the child rearing situation. Only four report on outcomes though these were correlated with personal rather than process variables. …Only a very few employ approaches which allow the researcher to observe and get closer to the realities of individual lives and situations, to discover meanings, motivations and the pressures which parents experience. Such studies can complement the survey research data and allow us to form a better understanding of the intervening processes through which a particular environment or context affects development. Such studies may also reveal the day-to-day experiences of this group of children and the knowledge, attitudes and skills that derive from those experiences” (1989:197) «­» A number of research studies in the 1990s tried to “get closer to the realities of individual lives” as Evans suggested. The fore-runner of this approach in Jamaica was Edith Clarke (8), who lived 20 months in the field in three communities, nine months in each of two, two months in the smallest one. She described her approach as participant/observation and conducted “free interviews” on wide-ranging topics concerning the family. The 1990-91 field work (also over 20 months) conducted as a pilot in Jamaica by Brown, Anderson and Chevannes (9) for the study of the role of


the Caribbean man in the family combined quantitative measures of men’s attitudes and behaviours as assessed by a questionnaire, with qualitative measures derived in participatory investigative discussions. The participatory group discussions with men and women offered opportunities to: ▪ assess the interest of men and women from several community settings in the general topic of men and family life; ▪ assess their potential responsiveness to such approaches used as parenting education efforts; ▪ test the perceptions of women about men’s family roles, and to measure the impact of women’s participation in discussions on men’s participation, reliability of information, comfort, defensiveness, etc., and ▪ provide the known benefits of interactivity and mutual support, and of group reflection and analysis, to both male and female participants. The questionnaires offered opportunities to probe for more detailed, sensitive and confidential information from participants than afforded by the group discussions; this approach also provided a check against the possibility that peer pressure in the groups could influence contributions of participations. Four communities were originally selected to represent four different slices of lower to lower-middle class communities: deep rural, rural nearer to a major city, a suburban “dormitory” area, and an inner-city area with high unand under-employment. Sample selection in each community was accomplished by a quota sampling system. The four areas were at first mapped (using electoral district maps). In the smallest community, it was necessary to interview almost all men in the selected catchment area. For the other three communities, interviewers were assigned selected mapped streets distributed evenly within the target community, and they interviewed an assigned number of men in that area who met the sample qualifications. To develop the questionnaire, the project advisory team drafted a working outline of topics to be covered; in addition it was decided to incorporate initial findings from the first discussion series in the first community. The survey consultant met with the group facilitators several times through the eight weeks of discussions in that community to ensure that the issues being


raised and discussed in the group were covered in the questionnaire, and that language used was consistent and appropriate. The questionnaire was pretested with a sample of 42 men in a rural community. No bias appeared for either male or female interviewers. Despite its length of 35-45 minutes to administer, compliance was high. Some minor adjustments in language were made after the pilot. The final questionnaire had 110 items. The findings indicated: “While lacking the benefit of a statistically random sample design, the survey was able to put together a body of data on groups of men whose characteristics concurred quite closely with the independent sources of social data available on their communities. Although not capable of generalization beyond the particular groups surveyed, our findings point to an impressive regularity in behavior and attitudes that is strongly suggestive of the existence of underlying cultural prescriptions in regard to mating and parenting.” Outlines for a series of eight weekly discussions with mixed groups of men and women were developed in consultation with an experienced drama-ineducation team. For some topics men and women met together; for some they separated, then shared their outcomes. Participatory techniques such as songs, warm-ups and ring games, role plays, video drama, drawings, etc. were used. Recruitment of participants was done in general community meetings where interest was raised and persons signed up for the series. The sessions were conducted by male and one female co-facilitators. Discussion groups were audio-taped and summary transcripts made. Observer notes were taken at each session and the team did content analysis and evaluation after each session. «­» The gender socialization study (Brown and Chevannes, 11) that followed the above study attempted to ascertain more clearly the origins of some of the family roles, attitudes and behaviour patterns that had emerged. The co-investigators chose to work in three Caribbean countries: one in the Eastern Caribbean (Dominica) and one with a substantial non-African population (Guyana) to complement the third (Jamaica), the project’s home base. Six communities were selected:


▪ Dominica: 1 suburban housing scheme near the capital Roseau- predominantly blue collar workers, containing a relocated rural population ▪ Guyana: 2 communities: one Indo-Guyanese on the Georgetown outskirts, with a mix of sugar estate and urban working-class families; the second Afro-Guyanese of primarily low income families in central Georgetown, mostly living in an aging Government housing scheme. ▪ Jamaica: 3 communities: a rural community—families working medium and small farms; an urban predominantly blue collar community of home owners and tenants, factory workers, clerical workers and teachers; a Kingston inner-city community with high unemployment and low-income self-employment, mixed with blue collar workers. Teams were selected to work in each country with the assistance of local advisors. The teams were trained in Jamaica for a week prior to community entry and data collection. Field work was for a six-month period commencing January 1994. Each community team was comprised of: ▪ One male ethnographer (trained by one of the co-investigators in the basic skills of ethnography. These persons committed 20 hours a week to participant observation, interviews and recording of field notes. ▪ Two animators, male and female, with facilitation/animation skills. These persons committed an average of 10 hours per week for preparation time, meetings and post-meeting evaluations and recordings. ▪ One documentalist, skilled in observation and recording of group and individual behaviours. There were two phases in the field—entry and data collection. The entry activities included identifying community groupings: ▪ Brokers (community leaders and spokespersons) to provide passage into the communities and to give ongoing linking assistance and legitimacy to field workers; these were not necessarily informants. ▪ “Core group” of men and women, representative of the community, to meet on a regular basis to examine major research questions. They also directed researchers to other persons and groups for specific enquiries. ▪ “Seed groups” structured on a more ad hoc basis to further discuss specific themes with targeted age and gender groupings. Of the process, the authors’ comment (10): “Despite...constraining factors, a massive amount of electronically and handrecorded material was generated in bar-rooms, beauty parlours, living rooms and


kitchens as well as on street corners, under trees and on sports fields. Some groups met only once; most met several times on different or deepening themes. Ethnographers’ in-depth interviews often fleshed out other team members’ understanding, while the frequent parry and thrust of group debates highlighted awareness of issues and sharpened contradictions.” The experience of using these methodologies to explore gender socialisation, and the interest raised by the findings, led to the inclusion of Jamaica in a six-country study to explore the views of young children on the same topic (12). Small grants from the Consultative Group on ECCD funded the work in Morocco, Mali, Bolivia, India, Indonesia and Jamaica. Researchers first conducted a literature review (inclusive of anthropological, psychological, sociological, health and nutrition and education studies) related to gender socialization in their respective countries. Only a few studies yielded information specific to the age group below primary school. The lit reviews were used to identify questions for local investigation. A joint approach was agreed using a PLA (Participatory Learning and Action) protocol to gather information on these gaps. Brief training was undertaken to ensure a measure of confidence with the PLA techniques. The PLA method evolved from earlier work in the 1970s known as Rapid Appraisal, developed by Robert Chambers. It aims to gain a timely, relevant and cost-effective assessment of conditions within a community, and has been used in many rural development projects around the world. Originally created from participatory research, applied anthropology and field research methods as a diagnostic tool for the use of outsiders coming into communities for information, it has evolved into a more participatory tool itself, so that those from outside come into community as “learners, conveners, catalysts, and facilitators of the community’s definition of needs”. The outsiders then work with the “insiders” within the community to design a plan of action to meet those needs. Various methods (mostly from social anthropology) are used to assist communities to “tell their own story”. They include mapping of the community, focus groups, semi-structured interviews, diagrams and pictures, time lines (of local history, seasonal diagramming), matrices ranking of variables, as well as direct observation. The process is usually carried out within 1 to 3 weeks. The best results are achieved with a multi-disciplinary team. Field-work in Jamaica was conducted between May and December 1996.


Where appropriate, researchers worked with local NGOs who already were working in the selected communities. “In sum, the project was designed to do two things: to assess the use of PLA as a process for gathering data on early childhood experiences, and to gather data on gender socialisation that could be used for the purposes of programme planning. The studies provided rich data on both.” (12) Subsequent work using PLA (Moser and Holland,14) describes general community perceptions about quality of parenting, the frustrations of parents being taken out on children, the lack of general respect for children, poor modeling for children and lack of discipline. In this study some children were interviewed: “Interviews with children brought out their recognition of the need for discipline but the wrong of too much beating….What was not appreciated was adults encouraging fights among them and urging one child to ‘beat up’ another.” «­» The Profiles Project (Samms-Vaughan, 13) in Jamaica used a combination of methods. A survey was designed to obtain comprehensive information on six year-olds, their status and that of their learning environments. In order to determine the important attributes to be measured an Interinstitutional Committee comprising members of the health, education, finance, planning, statistical and research communities of Jamaica was formed to guide the process. This allowed for contribution from all areas involved with early childhood care and development. A series of workshops were also held with all agencies associated with early childhood care to inform them of the project, and probably more importantly, to obtain their input in determining the important attributes and factors that affect child outcome, based on each agency’s experience. Attributes covered broad areas and included socio-economic status, family structure, family functioning, social environment, health and nutrition and the learning environment. Within each attribute, there were a number of individual factors identified. The Profiles project took advantage of the Jamaica Labour Force Survey, a quarterly national survey conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica to determine the characteristics of the working population in Jamaica. Statistical sampling methods, using geographically based enumeration districts, identify a 1 per cent nationally representative sample of Jamaican homes. Of the 7,648 nationally representative homes identified from all of the fourteen parishes in Jamaica, approximately 500 have a child at the end of the pre-


school years, aged five to six years. Financial constraints allowed only a 0.5 per cent sample to be selected in this project. The combination of parishes that together best represented the nation’s overall socio-economic status and provided a 0.5 per cent sample of the population was selected and children in those parishes evaluated. A total of 245 children in six parishes had evaluations performed. Instruments of known validity and reliability in Jamaica and other populations were used to measure the identified attributes and factors where possible Where no existing instrument accurately captured the nuances of Jamaican life, as for socio-economic status and health, questionnaires were designed (See Table 1 on the next page for a list of questionnaires and measures used in the Profiles Project). Seven nurse interviewers were trained to administer questionnaires, perform height and weight measurements and administer questionnaires and special psychological tests. Children were seen on four separate occasions. Interviews were performed at school to obtain teacher assessments of behaviour, at home to obtain parent information and evaluate the status of the home learning environment and at special centres where sensitive equipment for measuring hearing and vision and cognitive tests were located. The final interview was conducted a year after the first, when children had made the transition to the Grade One environment. Academic progress and the Grade One learning environment were evaluated. Good data quality was determined by completeness of data collection, normality of distribution and variation among sub-groups within the population. Factors for which the response rate was less than two-thirds of the total sample were considered to have incomplete data collection and were excluded from further analysis. Normality of distribution and variation among sub-groups was determined by evaluation of means, standard deviations and standard errors.


Questionnaire Socio-economic status

Respondent Parent

Family Adaptability and Cohesion Environment Scale (FACES II) (Olson D, 1982) The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) (Derogatis L, 1993) The Parental Stress Index (PSI) (Abidin R, 1995) Child Health Child Behaviour Checklist (Achenbach, 1991). Behavioural and Emotional Rating Scales (BERS) (Epstein MH, 1998). Teacher Report Form (Achenbach 1991) BERS McCarthy Scales 1 Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) (Wilkinson G, 1994) 1 Violence exposure (Children were asked in an age-appropriate way to report their experiences as victims or witnesses. Visual cues were used to obtain responses; children indicated on a thermometer-like scale the degree of exposure to each act of violence) Anthropometry Vision Hearing McCarthy Scales 2 WRAT 2 MICO Reading Early Childhood Home Inventory (Caldwell B, 1984) Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Revised (Harms, Clifford, Cryer,1998).

Parent Parent Parent Parent Parent Parent Teacher Teacher Child Child Child

Measurements Obtained Family structure; Physical status of home; Access to facilities; Changes of environment; Past academic environment; Religious environment; Leisure activities; Discipline Family functioning Parental mental health Parent-child interaction Past and current health Child psychopathology Child behaviour strengths Child psychopathology Child behaviour strengths Cognitive function School achievement Exposure to violence.

Child Child Child Child Child Child Interviewer Interviewer

Height and weight Visual functioning Hearing functioning Cognitive function School achievement Reading achievement Home learning environment Primary learning environment


Questions for further discussion from Section 6 1. How could countries within the region cooperate to provide data that could serve in measuring similarities and differences among disparate population groups? 2. How can methodological best practices be shared to reduce research design costs and weaknesses? 3. Impact studies and cost benefit analyses of interventions are critical if best practices are to be documented and used for replication within the region. How can the region access funding to support these studies? 4 .How could we in the Caribbean reduce our 'borrowing' from North American and European theories of child development? 5. Should we 'grade' our Caribbean studies on their capacity to provide valid information about Caribbean children? 6. Should we review and adapt measures developed for longitudinal studies of the benefits of early learning interventions and compare results with Caribbean-developed early learning assessment measures and other international instruments that have been piloted (e.g. the EDI in Jamaica)? 7. Should we conduct studies of HOW children learn using mixed methods (such as EPPE) and combine the assessment measures with participant observation methods (i.e. technique of describe → record → develop cultural framework – not start with a framework first)? 8. How could we effectively use retrospective accounts of young adults of their recollections of early childhood experience? 9. How can we develop USER FRIENDLY instruments for assessing the capacity of learning environments to promote beneficial outcomes for children? (to be used in home learning environments; infant learning environments in centres; preschool learning environments (we already have a good basis with 720 schools in 9 countries observed using ECERS (R); school learning environments for children 6 and 7 years of age ) Section 6: References (1) Grantham-McGregor, S., Landman, J. and Desai, P. (1983) Childrearing in poor urban Jamaica, in Child: care, health and development, 1983, 9, 57-71, Blackwell Scientific Publications (2) Payne, M.A and Furnham, A F , Parental self-reports of child rearing practices in the Caribbean, Journal of Black Psychology, Spring 1992, Vol.18, No.2, pp 19-36 [citing Block, J. (1965) The child rearing prac-


tices report, Berkeley, California, University of California, Institute of Human Development] (3) Holden, G.W and Edwards L.A (1989) Parental attitudes toward childrearing: instruments, issues and implications, Psychological Bulletin, 106, 29-58 (4) Payne, M. (1989) Use and Abuse of Corporal Punishment: A Caribbean View, in Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 13, pp 389-401 (5) Rohner, R, Kean, K and Cournoyer, D. (1991) Effects of Corporal Punishment, Perceived Caretaker Warmth, and Cultural Beliefs on the Psychological Adjustment of Children in St. Kitts, West Indies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, August, 681-693. [citing Rohner, R P (1989) Handbook for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection , Centre for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection, University of Connecticut, Storrs.] (6) Morrison, J., Ispa, J. and Milner, V. (1998) Ideas about Child Rearing among Jamaican Mothers and Early Childhood Education Teachers. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 12, No. 2, 166175 [citing Schaefer, E.S. and Edgerton, M (1985) Parent and Child correlates of parental modernity in I.E.Sigel ed Parental Belief Systems: The psychological consequences for children , Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 287-318; Schaefer, E.S and Bell, R.Q. (1958) Development of a parental attitude research instrument, Child Development, 29, 339-361. ] (7) Evans, H (1989) Perspectives on the socialisation of the working class Jamaican Child, Social and Economic Studies, Volume 38, no3, 177-203 (8) Clarke, E. (1957) My Mother Who Fathered Me. George Allen and Unwin Ltd (9)Brown, J. Anderson, P and Chevannes, B. (1993) The Contribution of Caribbean Men to the Family: A Jamaica Pilot Study. Report to IDRC, UNICEF and CUSO. (10) Brown, J. and Chevannes, B. (1998). Why Man Stay So: Tie the Hiefer, Loose the Bull. An Examination of Gender Socialisation in the Caribbean by the UWI, UNICEF. (11) Brown, J and Chevannes, B (1995) Final Report of the Gender Socialisation Project of the University of the West Indies, UNICEF Caribbean Area Office and Caribbean Child Development Centre and the Department of Sociology and Social Work, UWI: Mona (12) McGarrity, G and Brown, J. (1997) Gender and the Young Child: A


Jamaican Community Exploration. In Coordinator’s Notebook: An International Resource for Early Childhood Development. No. 20, (13) Samms-Vaughan, M., 2001, The Profiles Project, Report No.1, A profile of the status of Jamaican preschool children and their learning environments. Department of Child Health with Caribbean Child Development Centre, UWI: Mona [See also Samms-Vaughan M.E., Williams S., and Brown J. Determining early childhood indicators for Jamaica: A methodological approach, Caribbean Childhoods: From Research to Action, Vol 1, Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston, Jamaica, 2003] (14)Moser, C and Holland, J (1995) Urban Poverty and Violence in Jamaica, Urban Development Division, World Bank



Cultural Bases of Childrearing and Socialization in African- Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean Families
Jaipaul L. Roopnarine Since the pioneering work of Mead (1968) and Whiting and Whiting (1975), there has been a steady increase in attempts to understand the cultural basis of childhood development in different societies around the world. The pace of such efforts has quickened noticeably over the last two decades (see for example volumes on Cultural Psychology, Cole, 1996; Childhood and Adolescence: Cross-Cultural Perspectives and Applications by Gielen & Roopnarine, 2004; Parents’ Cultural Belief Systems: Their Origins, Expressions, and Consequences by Harkness & Super, 1996; HunterGatherer Childhoods, Hewlett & Lamb, 2006; The role of the Father in Child Development by Lamb, 2004; Psychology of Immigration by Mahalingam, 2006; The Cultural Nature of Human Development by Rogoff, 2003; Guided Participation in Cultural Activity by Toddlers and Caregivers by Rogoff, Mistry, Goncu, & Mosier, 1993, to name a few). No doubt, this is due to a greater recognition of the role of cultural practices in shaping early childhood development. This [researchers meeting] marks one of the first attempts to singularly focus on the cultural underpinnings of childhood socialization and development in the poly-ethnic communities of the Caribbean. A wide gap exists with respect to research interest in culture and childhood development in the Caribbean context. It is fair to say that with lean resources, we are slowly making progress in this area of research inquiry (e.g., Brown, 2006; Chevannes, 1999; Dubrow, 1999; Flinn, 1992; Wilson et al., 2003). Regrettably, much of the work on families and children in the Caribbean is loosely organized, with minimal discourse occurring across allied social science disciplines. The child development and early childhood education fields in the Caribbean would profit tremendously from investigations in the following areas:


• • • • • • •

parental ideas about development, culture and thinking, customary practices, traditions, and rituals that touch the lives of children, how parents ensure the survival of young children, developmental timetables and parental goals for development, participation of children in the everyday life of communities, pre- and post-colonial histories and their influence on the changing nature of childrearing, and similarities and differences in beliefs and practices in childrearing and their potential outcomes in the different ethnic groups that make up the cultural mosaic of the Caribbean.

Hopefully, this conference signals a turning point in research on children and families in the Caribbean with an emphasis on “the cultural nature of everyday life” (Rogoff, 2003). A major goal of this paper is to identify cultural processes in the socialization of young children (0-8 years) in African Caribbean and Indo Caribbean families residing in the English-speaking Caribbean. To avoid major overlaps with reviews of the literature generated by Brown and Williams (this document), my discussion centers on images of children and conceptions of childhood, parental beliefs, styles, and practices, academic socialization within families, and childhood mental health. I will also cover some conceptual and methodological issues in developing research paradigms for examining common constructs that constitute childrearing and socialization practices within the heterogeneous ethnic/cultural groups in the Caribbean. In the final segment of the paper, suggestions are offered for conducting research on childhood socialization and their developmental outcomes in families with an emphasis on tapping into cultural processes. The overall intent is to situate childrearing and childhood development in the Caribbean within similar studies carried out in other cultures.


As per Rogoff”s (2003) suggestion, the term “cultural communities” will be used throughout so as to focus on individuals and processes and to avoid making population-level inferences. Before I begin, some precautionary remarks are necessary. Assertions have been made about the legacy of slavery and indentured servitude in fragmenting antecedent childrearing and family practices (those brought from Africa and India) (see Barrow, 1996; Frazier, 1951; Herskovits, 1941; Leo-Rhynie, 1997; Nevadomsky, 1983; Smith & Mosby, 2003). Anthropologists (Hewlett, de Silverti, & Gugliemino, 2002) have proposed that different aspects of family life and kinship patterns are more susceptible to influences from demic diffusion (expansion and differentiation) than from cultural diffusion (e.g., influences from neighboring cultures) or the ecological setting per se. How these perspectives apply to groups of people who have endured slavery and indentured servitude has not been elaborated in great detail. To be sure, processes of “deinstitutionalization,” “restitutionalization,” “stabilization,” and “destabilization” of family life and attendant childrearing practices must have occurred through the dehumanizing experiences of slavery and indentured servitude (see Sharma, 1986). A majority of the studies conducted on childrearing in the Caribbean has focused on African descent people (see Brown & Williams 2006). Little is known about childrearing in other ethnic groups, such as East Indians, Black Caribs, Chinese, Amerindians, or the growing numbers of individuals from mixed ethnic backgrounds. This is a serious oversight because East Indians constitute at least half of the population of Guyana (51% Indo-Guyanese and 39% African-Guyanese) and Trinidad and Tobago (40% African-Trinidadian, 40% Indo-Trinidadian), and there are increasing numbers of individuals from mixed ethnic backgrounds (dogla) in several Caribbean countries (e.g., 14% in Trinidad and Tobago) (World Atlas, 2000; United Nations, 2001). To address this knowledge gap, this paper considers childrearing beliefs and practices of Indo Caribbean families.


A basic research strategy has been to document different levels of and, in some cases, styles of maternal and paternal involvement and dysfunctional aspects of parent-child relationships (e.g., harsh disciplinary practices, lack of playful interactions between parents and children, minimal displays of affection). Thus, the slender body of work on Caribbean families and children is narrowly conceived, with little emphasis given to everyday beliefs and practices employed in childrearing and their possible meaning for developmental outcomes across ethnic/cultural groups. Of equal concern is the lack of attention to the mental health of children within Caribbean and Caribbean immigrants families abroad. At the moment, increased rates of intermarriage, population movement to the industrialized countries, poor economic conditions, educational attainment, lower fertility rates, and challenges to patriarchy are all involved in shaping the psychological functioning of African Caribbean and Indo Caribbean families. Family Structural Context for the Socialization of Children To more adequately capture the cultural patterns of childrearing in the Caribbean, it is first necessary to describe the family contexts in which children are raised. The family organization patterns in and of themselves embody specific socio-cultural realities in the lives of Caribbean children. Variations in mating and marriage systems convey community and society-wide attitudes about reproductive strategies, and affect inheritance patterns, the sexual division of labor, resource allocation and investment biases in biological and nonbiological children, and the abandonment of children (see Low, 2005). It is within the family and community that the canalization of reproductive strategies and the meaning of pair bond stability are cemented (see Quinlan & Flinn, 2003). Largely based on marriage, Indo Caribbean family organization patterns are a mixture of nuclear and extended households. Extendedness may be for life, where three-generational families share a domicile and pool economic resources, may follow a transitional extended phase in which married children live within a three-


generation family initially and after a few years establish a separate residence that is nuclear, or may involve a pattern where married couples live separately but maintain functional extendedness with kinship members (see Nevadomsky, 1982; Sharma, 1986). Marriages are still arranged with the expectation that gifts (formerly dowry) be exchanged, but increasingly, young adults and teenagers choose their own partners (see Kanhai, 1999; Mohammed, 1997; Prasad, 1999 for descriptions of Indian marital practices). Patrilocal residence is the norm after marriage. The Indo-Caribbean family has its structural roots in patriarchal traditions articulated in ancient Hindu religious texts (e.g., Ramanaya, Upanishads, Mahabharata). The edicts in these religious texts espouse a traditional view of husband-wife roles (Kakar, 1991). Psychological constructions about manhood and womanhood are driven, in part, by the precepts in these texts (see Kakar, 1991). The personification of certain epics laid out in the ancient texts (e.g., the devoted son Lord Rama and his heroine wife, Sita) reminds men and women of what constitutes the “cultural ideal” of relationships between husband and wife. The Shastras (e.g., Laws of Manu, 200 B.C.-A.D. 200) specify the responsibilities of men and women in family life along strongly gender-demarcated lines. In essence, Manu’s edicts support the superiority of men and the subordination of women (pativrata). In contemporary Indo Caribbean families, manhood is still defined by male dominance and control over family members. Men are seen as the heads of their households even when their wives work outside of the home or earn more than their husbands. Serving as a bridge to the outside world, men may wield significant psychological and financial control over family members (Jayawardena, 1963; Mansingh & Mansingh, 1999; Rauf, 1974; Roopnarine et al., 1997). There are strong ties to patrilineal members (e.g., fathers and brothers) and the eldest son is expected to care for his aging parents and to assume responsibility for sacraments upon their deaths. The subordination of son to father is still apparent. The duo-focal nature of


Indo Caribbean communities is clearly visible: women are often confined to the company of other female kinship members and men prefer to be with other males. Far from being seamless, social relationships involve a fair amount of conflict as well as solidarity. Conflicts between familial members occur frequently and usually result from disagreements between mothers-in-law and daughtersin-law, challenges to male authority, irresponsibility and drunkenness on the husband’s part, infidelity on the wife’s part, and the inequitable distribution of resources (Jayawardena, 1963; Roopnarine et al, 1997). Undeniably, cultural abstractions of Indo Caribbean family organization patterns can lead to exaggerations of the “essentialist ideal.” This notwithstanding, looking for “India” in the Caribbean has not been totally unproductive. Scholars of the India diaspora have identified pockets of translocal practices that resemble marriage ceremonies and family socialization practices in parts of India (see Dabydeen & Samaroo, 1994). These practices continue to anchor Indo Caribbean family structural arrangements. Nonetheless, it is appropriate to ask whether marriage is still the major impetus behind the establishment of the Indo Caribbean family. In contrast to the marriage/marital practices of Indo Caribbean populations, childbearing and childrearing in African Caribbean families occur in multiple relationship unions over different phases of the life cycle. This phenomenon has been recorded in the Anglophone (Brown et al., 1997) and Francophone Caribbean (Brunod & Cook-Darzens, 2002). For most families in the English-speaking Caribbean, childbearing begins in nonmarital unions—visiting and common-law—where mate-shifting is prevalent (Ramkissoon, 2001; Senior, 1991). About 70% of children in these families are born in non-legal unions (Powell, 1986) with roughly half of primiparous births occurring in the teenage years (Evans & Davies, 1997). These practices may have originated out of slavery but are influenced by poor economic conditions and


low educational attainment today (Brown et al., 1997; see Wyatt, Durvasula, Guthrie, LeFrance, & Forge, 1999 for insights into the onset of early sexuality in Jamaica). Accompanying high levels of non-marital births is the increased likelihood of female-headed households and non-residential fatherhood. Indeed, in assessments of family structural arrangements in the Caribbean (Massiah, 1982; Powell, 1986; Wilson, & Berkeley-Caines, 2003), data suggest that 35.5% of families in Antigua, 29.25% in St. Kitts, 45% in St. Lucia, 37.9% in St. Vincent, 49.2% in Barbados, and 58% in Jamaica had fathers residing in the households (Leo-Rhynie, 1997). Following a life-course developmental process, parenting may first begin in visiting unions. About 25% of mating relationships are visiting unions, with different estimates ranging from 19% to 34% in some Caribbean countries (Brown et al., 1997; Senior, 1991). After bearing children in visiting relationships, men and women may enter common-law relationships. The percentage of commonlaw relationships varies between 12% and 48% among Jamaican men (Brown et al., 1997; Ramkissoon, 2001) but is nearer to 20% across the Caribbean (Senior, 1991). In these relationships, the couple lives together under the same roof and shares resources. Men appear to be the major economic provider (64.5% on average) in these families (see Roopnarine, 2004). However, relationships with biological and non-biological children and pair-bond stability in previous and current unions are not well understood. Jealousy plays a role in the social contacts men and women have with previous partners and children born in these mating unions (Flinn,1992). On the decline in some countries such as Dominica (Quinlan & Flinn, 2003) and remaining relatively low in Barbados (an average of 5.4 marriages per 1000 over the last 100 years; Barrow, 2001), marriage is more probable after progressive mating in non-legal unions. In their study of paternal involvement in different communities in the Kingston area of Jamaica, Brown et al. (1997) reported that for men under 30, 9.35% of fathers were married,


41.3% were in common-law unions, and 44.9% were in visiting relationships. The reverse was true for men over 50 years of age: the marriage rate was 54.3%, with only 8.9% in visiting relationships. To some measure, entry into marriage may depend on greater economic security; for men with greater economic resources, the marriage rate was as high as 62.5% in one sample (Ramkissoon, 2001). By the time men and women enter a legal union, it is not unusual for them to have children from several “babymothers” and “babyfathers.” In the Contributions of Caribbean Men to the Family study (Brown et al., 1993), 54.4% of men had one “babymother,” 37.5% had between two and three “babymothers,” and 8.1% had four or more “babymothers.” “Outside children” were also evident among Jamaican men with better economic standing (Ramkissoon, 2002). Debates are being waged about whether mate shifting and pairbond stability are canalized during early childhood (see Quinlan & Flinn, 2003). Genealogical data on Dominican families failed to confirm this hypothesis. There was a slightly gretaer tendency for women who spent their childhoods in father-present homes to have father-present children than those who spent their childhoods in father-absent homes. Father absence in childhood did not predict the number of mates with whom men and women had children (Quinlan & Flinn, 2003). These findings suggest the need to examine other events in children’s lives that may contribute to their internal working models of reproductive strategies. An equally intriguing area that is ripe for exploration is children’s conceptions of “family(ies).” What do children regard as qualifying a man to be labeled “a father.” Research conducted by Seltzer (2005) on mental health problems among Norwegian children in “trial families” might be of relevance in addressing Caribbean children’s native theories of “family(ies).” A growing lifestyle trend among Norwegians is co-habiting relationships that often last for short periods and may produce offspring. Children in these families exhibit dif-


ficulties in defining adult-child relationships (e.g., who is the father), and it is not unusual for some children to meet their halfsiblings for the first time in school settings. An anecdote from Seltzer’s (2005) clinical analysis indicates the confusion children face in negotiating and understanding familial relationships. When six-year-old Anne was asked about her father, she mentioned that “she is not sure, but maybe Ole, because he lives with her mother, her, and her brother (=half-brother).” After some thought, she adds: “ But he is mostly my brother’s father, but a little bit my father too.” When asked, who might be mostly her father, Anne said “Knut was my father before…. but not any more…because he used to live with us…before..but not now.” Further questioning that focused on who feels like a father inside, she replied, “Maybe Svein, because he lived with us when I was in my mommy’s tummy. Then she carefully wipes the tears from her eyes, and adds: And his eyes look like mine.” Images of Children and the Meaning of Childhood Why study images of children and the meaning of childhood within different cultures? Some (e.g., Lamb & Hwang, 1996) have proposed that the manner in which we perceive children and culturally construct the meaning of childhood often conveys information on the legal status accorded children, and how we implement and provide health care, educational, and social services to them. In other words, ideas about children and childhood present a glimpse into cultural systems of childrearing and how children are valued in cultural communities. It perhaps comes as no surprise that images of children introduce levels of abstraction that would be difficult to reconcile in this paper. I have taken the liberty of conceptualizing “images” in terms of how children are perceived by adult members of their communities, customs and rituals that surround children’s lives, and what is expected of children during their formative years. Historically, religious texts (e.g., The Vedas, The Torah, The Bible, The Quran, The Analects), proverbs, myths, and rituals have been rich repositories of cultural knowledge about how parents ap-


proach childrearing, the existence and nature of developmental stages and milestones (see Aires, Centuries of Childhood), whether children hold a privileged position in the family and society, the educational opportunities available to children, and disciplinary practices (Lamb & Hwang, 1996; Mohammed, 1997; Palacios, 1996; Sander, 1996). The messages contained in religious texts, proverbs, and myths have served to: ▪ reinforce traditional family values (e.g., Pativrata or subservient wife in Hinduism as portrayed in the Shastras; “Male child even if a thief,” Spanish proverb; “The path to all good marriages follow[s]: the wife follows the husband, Chinese), ▪ sketch notions of inherited traits (e.g., “No eggplant grows on melon vines,” Japanese proverb), and ▪ devise blueprints for community character and behaviors, and set moral precedence of what is “good,” “acceptable,” and “appropriate” behavioral norms for children (e.g., deprived childhood as synonymous with poor hygiene, disorganized home environment) (Palacios, 1996). Anthropologists, sociologists, and historians have long documented cultural ceremonies in childhood, customary practices and their expressions and meanings in the everyday lives of children (e.g., Mead’s descriptions of Samoan Children and LeVine’s accounts of Gusii childhood). In a profound way, the detailed descriptions of children’s everyday experiences have brought to light cultural scripts that are embedded in early socialization processes in different cultures (Harkness, 1996). In order to get a better handle on what childhood means in different societies today, researchers ask parents about their ideas or beliefs about inherited behavioral traits (see Palacios, 1992), the value of children (Kagitcibasi, 1996), at what age children acquire certain intellectual, social, and motor skills (see Goodnow, Cashmore, Cotton, & Knight, 1984), and what constitutes “competence” and “good” and “bad” children (see Crystal & Stevenson, 1995; Dubrow, 1999). Yet others have


singled out the developmental niche as crucial in understanding childhood and childrearing (Super & Harkness, 1997), or focus on how thought is organized within cultures (see D’Andrade & Strauss, 1992; Rogoff, 2003), and on how shared knowledge about parenting increases childhood survival (LeVine, 1974, 2004). Images of Childhood: Paradoxes In the Caribbean, it appears that current images of children and childhood continue to evolve out of diverse religious traditions (e.g., Islam, Hindu, Christian, Rastafari, and Orisha), superstition (e.g., Obeah), ancestral culture, sociohistorical experiences, and to a growing awareness of the rights and needs of children. On the one hand, several Caribbean countries have implemented laws that focus on child abuse and neglect, mandatory education, and child support for children who experience separation or divorce (see Barrow, 2001, 2003). Such public recognition has fostered a new level of appreciation of the “place” of children at the societal level and to a lesser extent at the individual level. On the other hand, it is difficult to ignore the enduring influence of different religious beliefs on images of children and definitions of childhood in the Caribbean. As will be seen, competing ideas of what children mean to adults and how they should be treated abound. Orthodox (Sanatan Dharma) and reformist (Arya Samaj) Hindu families in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago believe that children are a gift from God (in Hinduism Bhagwan ke Den). For Hindu children, a soul is acquired at conception (Garbhadana)—one that is steeped in Karmic laws of merit and demerit. Unlike Muslim children who are born “pure,” Hindu children may already have accumulated good or bad deeds at birth depending on past lives. In Indo Caribbean families, orthodox Hindus frown upon childlessness, as children are perceived to bring blessings, cohesion, and fulfillment to a home. Using local Indo Guyanese parlance, “homes without children are void of happiness.” Because of their centrality in the family, it is generally accepted that Indo Caribbean children should be lavished with attention and nurturance and treated with


leniency during the early childhood years. Sons are preferred over daughters, but this attitude has softened a bit. Parents see children as economic assets (Nodevemsky, 1983), although it is not clear whether the obligations of parents toward children exceed those of children toward parents (Sharma, 1986). During the first five years of life, it is believed that Hindu children are unable to distinguish right from wrong and punishment should be prohibited. This may partially explain the existence of a prolonged, indulgent infancy period that lasts way beyond the toddler years (Kakar, 1991; Roopnarine et al., 1997). As is present in other cultures (e.g., Chinese concept of dongshi—the age of understanding that appears around age 7), Hindu children are believed to reach the age of reasoning at five. At this time, formal learning is emphasized, and parents begin to actively train their children toward the acquisition of future goals. Children can now be punished for behavioral transgressions, even minor indiscretions. In Muslim families, the child is encouraged to declare its faith at four years of age (Bismillah), an event that signifies the child’s place within the family and cultural community. Quranic teachings may soon follow through parental guidance at home and/or attendance at an Islamic school (Imam Hack, personal communication, 2006; Sander, 1996). Over time, some of these religious-cultural ideals of children have gradually been replaced by ritualistic knowledge. I venture to guess that few Hindu Indo Caribbean parents are formally aware of the developmental transition to an age of reasoning. Yet, they do recognize the childhood period as one during which the child is immature and susceptible to behavioral training from different members of the cultural community. It would be beneficial to know whether parents believe that the child’s personality is being formed at this time or it is already in place at birth., immutable if you will.


African Caribbean parents, like their Indo Caribbean counterparts, see children as “precious,” “a joy,” and “a special gift,” and are perplexed at the concept of an “unwanted” child (Barrow, 2003). The value attributed to children is further mirrored in the treatment of women who cannot bear children; they are often disparaged and pitied (Sargent & Harris, 1992). Parents believe in the “vulnerability” of children, who should be fed, kept tidy, and protected (Barrow, 2003). A question remains as to whether African Caribbean parents view children as being born in sin, with a disposition to “bad behavior” (Barrow, 2003) or being “troublesome”(Abetant) (Dubrow, 1997). African Caribbean parents acknowledge the utilitarian value of children—“old-age security” (Barrow, 2003; Brown, 2006). The unshakable pedagogical maxim associated with Christianity, “to spare the rod is to spoil the child,” is heavily endorsed (Barrow, 2003). The inherent message is that children should be shaped early — the proverbial “as the twig is bent..”and “bad seed” or “bad soil.” Unlike Indo Caribbean families, however, African Caribbean women seem to favor the birth of daughters over sons. When posed with the question “Before you were pregnant the first time, did you want a boy or girl,” 78.7% of Jamaican women in one sample in the Kingston area indicated a preference for girls, 12.8% for a boy. The overwhelming preference for daughters stems from a lack of trust of men and to the difficulty encountered in raising boys (they are rude, bad) (Sargent & Harris, 1992). Obviously women weigh the costs and benefits of having sons—a practice that is witnessed in the Mukogodo of Kenya (Cronk, 2000). Customs in Childhood In various Caribbean communities, children are exposed to a complex array of rituals, religious practices, carnivals, and local festivals (e.g., Hosay and Orisha Ebo in Trinidad; Holi and Deepvali in Guyana; Harvest Festival in Barbados; Baptisms in Jamaica). As has been demonstrated (see, Rogoff, 2003), cultural activities offer children opportunities to participate, observe, and learn patterns of be-


haviors and pertinent information that they may then use to meet the structural and social demands of life within their communities. By involving children in customs and rituals, parents essentially serve as “cultural transmitters” (Whiting & Edwards, 1988). They ensure that children are furnished with opportunities to participate and intensely observe activities that are important to life in the family and community (Rogoff, 2003). A few commonly observed customs are described below. Beginning with Indo Caribbean households, pregnancy and birth trigger a course of religious prayers, sacred offerings, and rituals. At the birth of a Hindu child, parents may consult a pandit (Hindu priest), who after reading the child’s astrological chart, selects a letter that begins the child’s name (namakaran samskar or naming ceremony). Based on the reading of the chart, the Pandit may warn parents about impending obstacles in the child’s life and suggest possible pujas (prayers and offerings to specific Gods and Goddesses) to be carried out so as to prevent mishaps as the child matures. After giving birth, mothers are sequestered for nine days after which the baby is introduced to relatives and friends through a nine-day celebration. Head shaving (moohl samskar) usually takes place during the first year of life and among older children upon the death of a parent. Another samskar, annaprasana, performed between the seventh and eight month, involves giving the child solid foods for the first time. In Muslim families, prayers are whispered in the child’s right ear, sweet substances are given to the child to symbolize the sweetness of life, and the child’s head is shaven, all occurring during the newborn period. A naming ceremony occurs on the seventh day and boys are circumcised before age seven. Folk customs and remedies are sought should Indo Caribbean children become ill or be perceived to have been affected by an “evil” or “jealous” individual. Hindu parents may ouchee the child


(pass a homemade elixir over the body of child in a clockwise manner to cast off an evil spirit) if someone casts an “evil eye” or the baby becomes irritable and/or unsettled due to perceived external supernatural forces. On occasions, a Hindu priest may be called in to Jharee the child (pass objects over child’s body for healing purposes) when it is having difficulty or it is not feeling well. In a similar vein, Muslim parents may consult an Imam regarding difficult circumstances surrounding a young child’s life. African Caribbean children are immersed in diverse religious rituals and practices: Orisha, Rastafari, Comfa, and Christianity. Whether it is a Christian baptism or Orisha celebration of gratitude, children observe adult modes of worship and practices that are part of their spiritual community (Chevannes, 1998; Houk, 1999). They may witness rituals that involve spirit possession and ancestor worship. Mindful of the importance of religious socialization during the early childhood years, parents draw on religious doctrines and practices to educate children about moral principles, respect for elders, and ancestral traditions. Childhood Responsibilities On the whole, Caribbean children are expected to assume a variety of chores early in life. Two sets of responsibilities appear more prevalent than others: sibling care and household work. As is the case in many societies (see LeVine et al., 1994; Martini & Kirkpatrick, 1992; Maynard, 2004 for a description of sibling care in the Gusii, Marquesan, and Zinacantec Mayan, respectively), African Caribbean, Indo Caribbean, and Amerindian pre-adolescent children are pressed into caring for their siblings. A few pertinent questions raised by researchers (e.g., Maynard, 2004; Weisner, 1993) relate to the primacy of sibling care over that of other caregivers in the early socialization of children. Do Caribbean children act as co-parents to children or do they just pitch in to assist parents when childcare demands increase? At what age do Caribbean children begin to assume


responsibilities for childcare and how does the quality of care affect the social and cognitive development of their siblings? While I am not aware of any systematic investigations of sibling relationships in the Caribbean context, two ethnographic/ interview studies that touch upon sibling caregiving are informative. The first study was conducted in Dominica and St. Vincent (Dubrow, 1999). Essentially, with narrow birth spacing and significant time devoted to newborns, mothers are less able to devote time to other children. They depend on older children, mostly girls, to care for their younger siblings. As Dubrow (1999) describes, “Older siblings escort, bathe, and dress younger siblings. They help prevent major mishaps: Even a lackadaisical boy grabs the hand of his small sister before a truck hurls by them on the village road” (p. 107). Older siblings serve as socialization agents too, in that they introduce children to play groups and neighbors, and teach them about specific places in the village (Dubrow, 1999). In a second study conducted in Kingston, Jamaica, Sargent and Harris (1992) similarly observed that several girls and boys cared for their younger siblings in yards and alleys. In one instance, “Chantelle, age seven, watched her toddler and infant siblings, did light laundry and some cooking, and ran errands” (p. 526). Flinn (1992) estimated that among the constellation of individuals who care for young children in Trinidad, 16.3% of the care interactions were by siblings. Among Amerindian pre- and early school-aged children in coastal Guyana, male and female siblings play together. However, a fair amount of dominance and bullying is evident among siblings (Sanders, 1973), which is antithetical to the high levels of cooperation observed in sibling relationships among the Mayans (Mosier & Rogoff, 2003). In several Caribbean communities, parents expect their children to assume responsibility for household and family work. Returning to the Sargent and Harris (1992) study, Jamaican parents sug-


gested that boys and girls should learn to cook and do their laundry. Dominican parents “send their 3-to 4-years olds with older children to the local shop. During these errands, they learn which shops to go to, what to buy, how much to pay, and how to greet the storekeeper” (p. 107). By the time children reach age 5, they are capable of running errands without supervision. Boys care for animals, while girls sweep the yards, wash dishes, do the laundry, assist in processing coconuts, and guide young children (Dubrow, 1999). Roopnarine et al’s (1997) observations of Indo Caribbean village life in Guyana revealed almost identical responsibilities given to young children: washing/cleaning, watching younger siblings, and animal care. Parenting Beliefs, Styles, and Practices Researchers concerned with the joint or separate effect(s) parents exert on developmental processes have identified parenting beliefs, practices, and styles as crucial in understanding childhood development. As several researchers have shown that parents’ beliefs or ethnotheories about childcare, childhood development, and early education vary a good deal across cultural communities (see Rogoff, 2003; Roopnarine & Metindogan, 2006; Super & Harkness, 1997), and some have questioned the symmetry in meaning of parenting beliefs and practices for child development outcomes across cultures (see Chao, 1994; Hart et al., in press; Super & Harkness, 1997; LeVine, 2004; Mosier & Rogoff, 2003; Roopnarine, Bynoe, and Singh, 2004). Similarly, parenting styles, as conceived by Baumrind (1967), have generated some inconsistent findings across cultures. I now turn to a consideration of parental beliefs about childhood development and behavioral expectations of children, parenting practices, parenting styles, and academic socialization at home. Parental Beliefs About Childrearing and Development Parental beliefs (considered here as cognitions, ideas, or ethnotheories) provide a template for how individuals structure their thoughts and actions regarding their investment in the socialization


of children (Sigel & McGillicuddy-De Lisi, 2002; Super & Harkness, 1997). Beliefs represent the psycho-cultural schemas that are behind parents’ attempts to shape the lives of their children (Goodnow & Collins, 1990). They may be pre-packaged (e.g., cosleeping) (Shweder, 1982) or “constructed” as parents revise their views on childrearing (McGilliCuddy-DeLisi, 1982). Because parenting beliefs vary across ethnic and cultural groups and by socioeconomic status, applying a single cultural measure to determine what constitutes “good” and “bad” parenting and “developmentally-appropriate” socialization practices is inappropriate. For instance, depending on economic and social circumstances, parents frequently prioritize parenting goals (health and survival, cognitive stimulation) and use cultural childrearing scripts (e.g., pediatric versus pedagogical) accordingly to achieve them (LeVine, 1974). For example, in the United States, middle SES parents engage in a process of “concerted cultivation” to coach and arrange multiple social and intellectual activities for their children to achieve desired parental goals (Lareau, 2003). LeVine’s (2004) observations of the Gusii of southwestern Kenya shed some light on the dichotomy that exists in defining “good parenting.” By all accounts, Gusii mothers appear insensitive if we consider their low levels of visual and verbal engagement with infants compared with those of middle-class European American mothers. Nonetheless, Gusii mothers have high levels of physical contact with infants, co-sleep with them, and breastfeed on demand—all behaviors that may not be encouraged in some technologically developed societies, yet are accepted as important for the development of attachments to parents. Furthermore, data on Basque women showed an association between co-sleeping in the parental bedroom for several years (up to 4 or 5 years of age) and stronger egos as adults (Crawford, 1994). All of this raises the possibility that perhaps we may have been too derisive about parenting beliefs and practices in Caribbean families.


A logical starting point to address beliefs would be to examine perceptions about maternal and paternal roles and responsibilities toward children. Previously, I touched on the traditional beliefs about maternal and paternal roles in Indo Caribbean families— mother as nurturer and father as economic provider. Basically, African Caribbean families espouse the same beliefs (see Brown & Willams, 2006). In rural and urban settings in Guyana, Dominica, Barbados, and Jamaica, low-income men and women primarily see the father in the provider role (Brown et al., 1997; Dann, 1986; Roopnarine et al., 1995). It is safe to assume that these beliefs would influence parental availability and determine the very nature and quality of parental involvement with children. Among the Black Caribs of Belize more traditional gender roles are seen; men rarely interact with or display nurturance toward young children (Munroe & Munroe, 1992). A soon-to-bepublished study on Brazilian families (Benetti & Roopnarine, in press), also showed an association between gendered ideologies and paternal investment in caring for children in middle childhood. More extensive tests of ideological beliefs about gender roles and investment in children in Caribbean families would certainly render more clarity on this issue. Arguably, one of the most studied childrearing constructs in Caribbean parenting is physical punishment. Across Caribbean countries, parents believe that physical punishment is a part of good parenting practices and important for childhood training (see Rohner, Kean, & Cournoyer, 1991). They fully embrace the pronouncement ‘when you love your children, you will punish them” (Gopaul-McNicol, 1998). In their survey of 10-14 year-old Barbadian children, Anderson and Payne (1994) found that 40% of boys and 51% of girls approved of flogging/caning 5-to-7 yearold children. Barbadian adults echoed these sentiments as well (Handwerker, 1996). Beating with a stick or belt was common, as was verbal denigration, and both disciplinary methods occurred in the home and at school (see Anderson & Payne, 1994; Payne,


1989). Handwerker (1996) reported that 41% of boys were slapped or hit by their fathers and 69% by their mothers, and 26% of girls were slapped or hit by fathers and 53% by mothers. It is assumed that the rates and severity of physical punishment in the Caribbean are dramatically different from those of other countries. Data from other cultural communities seem to support this contention. Maternal reports of the use of physical punishment in Thailand, China, the Philippines, Italy, India, and Kenya revealed that across these societies mothers used physical punishment less than once a month, with the highest level occurring in Kenyan families (Lansford et al., 2005). Other than Rohner et al.’s (1991) data on families, do we know the frequency and intensity of physical punishment across ethnic and SES groups in Caribbean countries? [See Discipline Practices section in Literature Review above for data from Jamaica] There is considerable evidence that physical punishment is associated with psychological difficulties in children (Gershoff, 2002). Newer data suggest that failure to consider moderating variables such as “normativeness” and the degree of parental warmth and nurturance may produce an incomplete picture of the psychological consequences of physical discipline on children. Put differently, children’s perceptions and acceptance of parents’ disciplinary messages are important in explaining the consequences of physical punishment (see Grusec & Goodnow, 1994; Rohner, 1986). A cross-national study of mother-child dyads in China, India, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, and Thailand showed that perceived normativeness of physical discipline had a moderating effect on the relationship between physical discipline and childhood aggression and anxiety, but more frequent use of discipline was associated with childhood behavioral difficulties in children even when viewed as normative (Lansford, et al., 2005). This is particularly troubling given claims about the severity and persistence of physical punishment administered by Caribbean parents.


Behavioral expectations of children form another set of beliefs that tell us about cultural knowledge systems. In the Six Culture Study (Whiting & Whiting, 1963), parents had very specific ideas of what was expected of children (proper conduct, respect for elders). Parallel expectations of children were noticed in Caribbean families. African Caribbean and Indo Caribbean parents believe that children should be obedient and compliant, and show unilateral respect for adults and proper conduct in their presence (Dubrow, 1999; Wilson et al., 2003). For example, 100% of parents in Antigua, 96% in St. Kitts, 85% in St. Lucia, 94% in St. Vincent, 82% in Barbados, and 95% in Jamaica thought that children should obey their parents (Grant, Leo-Rhynie, & Alexander, 1983). A more recent study (Wilson et al., 2003) conducted in Guyana indicated that adults chose obedience as the most desirable socialization orientation (Wilson, et al., 2003), and Dominican parents described childhood competence in terms of respect for and obedience to adults, academic competence, proficiency in chores, getting along with peers, and engaging in activities in the larger community and school (Dubrow, 1999). Dominicans almost never see their children as bwen lave (well brought up), and regularly describe children’s behaviors in negative terms (A-betant or troublesome, Ka Raisonne or rude, miserable, lazy/idle). Before three years of age, A-betant carries less of a negative stigma; it is viewed indulgently (Dubrow, 1999). Developmental expectations of Caribbean children can be unrealistic, especially among low-income families. Together, Indo Caribbean and African Caribbean parents have a poor understanding of developmental milestones as parental expectations often do not match children’s behavioral skills or competencies. Young children are required to sit still for long periods, be neat and not get into messy play (Barrow, 2003; Grantham-McGregor et al., 1983; LeoRhynie, 1997). They are expected to get in line with adult routines and are constantly reminded of skills they should have already mastered. Caribbean parents do not stand alone in their earlier expectations of developmental skills in children or that children should


learn skills on their own. Nepalese parents expect their children to learn societal norms of behaviors on their own without direct input from adults (Levy, 1996), European American mothers had earlier expectations of achievement and social skills with peers, and Japanese mothers had earlier expectations of courtesy, emotional control, and compliance with adults (Hess, Kasigawa, Azuma, Price, & Dickson, 1980). That Caribbean mothers did not overwhelmingly acknowledge the value of play for childhood development is not unexpected. After all, children engage in quite a bit of play on a daily basis in yards and neighborhoods with same and cross-age peers. Given the emphasis on early academic training in the Caribbean, parents may reason that early childhood is a time during which children learn fundamental academic skills for early schooling— a plausible proposition that may bear on how adults structure learning environments for young children. Furthermore, beliefs about the value of play for cognitive development are more defined in some societies than others. Among East Indian, Thai, and Yucatec Mayan families, play was viewed as secondary to intellectual and social development in children (Roopnarine et al., 2003). In fact, when children engaged in play, Mayan parents thought that it signaled children were physically healthy and they did not interfere with adult activities (Haskins, 2003). Conflicting views about the merits of play for childhood development are also apparent among parents in the technologically developed world. Lowincome Latina and middle-income Asian immigrant mothers in the United States saw play as less likely to foster intellectual and social growth in children than more academically-laced activities (Holloway et al., 1995; Parminder & Harkness, 2005). Among a group of Caribbean immigrant parents in New York City, about half judged play to be important for both social and cognitive development during early childhood—perhaps indicating that institutional demands (e.g., schools, socially regulated customs) may lead parents to rework their beliefs about the benefits of play.


Parenting styles Parenting styles refer to “a constellation of attitudes toward the child that are communicated to the child and that, taken together, create an emotional climate in which the parent’s behaviors are expressed” (p. 488, Darling & Steinberg, 1993). Parenting styles have been explored internationally using Baumrind’s (1967) framework, The emphasis has been on the consequences of growing up with parents who are authoritarian, authoritative, indifferent, or indulgent. Such studies have focused on the control and warmth dimensions of parenting styles (Barber, 1996), the relationships between behavioral control (maturity demands of children, monitoring, limit setting), psychological control (withdrawal of love, guilt induction) and warmth, and their contributions to internalizing (withdrawal, fearfulness, inhibition, anxiety) and externalizing (anger, frustration, aggression) behavioral problems in children. Although psychological control appears to have the most deleterious effects on children, researchers believe that it is the combination of factors (warmth, punitive control) that may hold the clues to discovering the impact of parenting styles on childhood outcomes (Aunola & Nurmi, 2005; Darling & Steinberg, 1993). Broadly speaking, African Caribbean parents adopt an authoritarian parenting style that is a mixture of punitive control and indulgence and protectiveness (Leo-Rhynie, 1997), but variations have been detected in different countries. An appreciation for this diversity can be observed in the parenting behaviors and styles of higher socio-economic groups. Jamaican mothers engage in more indulgence and place greater emphasis on autonomy (Morrison, Ispa, & Milner, 1998), and among Jamaican men (N=230), 53% of lower-class fathers, 60% of lower-middle-class fathers, and 90% of middle/upper-middle-class fathers were judged to use an authoritative parenting style, whereas 20% of lower-class fathers, 15% of lower-middle class fathers, and no middle/upper-class father were perceived to employ an authoritarian parenting style (Ramkissoon, 2002). Similarly, Barbadian parents in non-manual


occupations indicated greater physical involvement and higher levels of intellectual nurturance, and saw restrictive parenting as less appealing than those who were unemployed or in manual jobs. Because there are no studies on the associations between different parenting styles and childhood outcomes in the Caribbean, findings from other cultural groups can inform research agendas on the role of parental factors in early behavioral and cognitive development in Caribbean children. The findings on parenting styles and their meaning for childhood social and cognitive outcomes in different cultural settings have been equivocal. In Finnish children, high levels of psychological control with high levels of affection were related to increases in both internalizing and externalizing behaviors as children transitioned from kindergarten to primary school, while high levels of behavioral control displayed with low levels of psychological control were predictive of decreases in externalizing behaviors (Anuola & Nurmi, 2005). Among Chinese families, physically coercive and psychologically controlling parenting predicted aggressive behaviors in children (Hart et al., in press), and in Caribbean immigrants in the United States, the fathers’ authoritarian parenting carried the weight of influence over mothers’ parenting in undermining academic and social skills in children. More specifically, the authoritarian parenting style had negative associations with language skills (vocabulary, receptive skills). In other studies, the authoritative parenting style seems to have more favorable outcomes for Hispanic and European Americans than African Americans or Asians Americans (Steinberg, Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992). Parental Socialization Practices A very small body of work (Jayawardena, 1963; Rauf, 1974; Roopnarine et al., 1997; Wilson, 1989) suggests that Indo Caribbean parents seem to engage in collectivistic childrearing tendencies (e.g., India, Indonesia, Thailand, see Gielen & Roopnarine,


2004; Roopnarine & Gielen, 2005) with a focus on interpersonal harmony, interdependence, and respect for elders. Indo Caribbean women are the primary caregivers and nurturers of children well into adolescence (Roopnarine et al., 1997, 2005). Early parentchild practices are relaxed and indulgent. Mothers tend to follow the child’s inclinations. Parents co-sleep with young children and there are few formal feeding and sleeping routines. Children are massaged routinely starting soon after birth. Indo Caribbean families believe in physical punishment. An overwhelming majority of recent Indo-Caribbean immigrant mothers and fathers with preschool-aged children living in the United States embraced the use of harsh discipline in childrearing (Roopnarine, 1999). In this context they use shame, social threats (e.g., “the strange woman down the street will come and get you”), and negative comments/denigration (e.g., “you are a wicked child.”) in their attempts to foster the development of desirable behaviors in children. Because the Indo Caribbean family has remained “functionally extended,” social boundaries are permeable. Fosterage and informal adoptions are encouraged and practiced. As noted already, social relationships are hierarchically arranged and younger members are required to show respect for older members of the family. Kinship terms such as aaji (paternal grandmother), aaja (paternal grandfather), and cha cha (paternal uncle) are used to demarcate affinal relationships and to maintain social order within families. Within a rigid gender-differentiated social system, mothers serve as the social liaison between children and their fathers and other adult members of society. Women have close emotional ties to children, but that closeness does not necessarily carry with it a greater investment in the socialization of daughters. What it does mean is that mothers invest a good deal of time monitoring their daughters’ activities more closely than they do their sons’. Hindu cultural beliefs which encourage a greater investment in sons was previously noted. Familial members give boys more social latitude than they


do girls (Roopnarine et al., 1997). Assessments of paternal involvement show that Indo Caribbean fathers are involved in caring for young children (Wilson, 1989), but data in this area are quite sparse. For African Caribbean women, motherhood is a central feature of womanhood. Women are the primary caregivers to children, and have been described as “fathering children” (Clarke, 1957). Their strong commitment to the maternal role is seen in child-centered infant handling routines that include massage, stretching, and motor exercises (Hopkins & Weistra, 1988), in their relaxed responses to the fretfulness and crying in children, in their close physical contact with infants (Landman, Grantham-McGregor, & Desai, 1983), and in prolonged breastfeeding practices (Quinlan, Quinlan, & Flinn, 2003). Because of conjugal family arrangements, child-shifting, fosterage, and migration, multiple caregivers raise children. Other caregivers such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings contribute to childrearing—in what has been labeled as a culture of “emotional expansiveness” (Brodber, 1975). Multiple caregiving is prevalent in diverse cultural communities (e.g. Efe) where other female caregivers nurse children, there are high rates of infant transfer, and interactions are positive (Tronick, Morelli, & Winn, 1987). A study of Trinidadian families (Flinn, 1992) found that 17.6% of care interactions were by grandparents. Levels of father involvement among African Caribbean men have been recorded and are summarized by Brown and Williams (2006). Child-shifting may be a vestige of slavery but is practiced widely across the Caribbean. It occurs when the parent enters a new romantic relationship, migrates to find a better standard of living, or struggles to meet the child’s social and economic needs (see Brown et al., 1997; Russell-Brown, Norville & Griffith, 1997). Between 15% and 33% of children are shifted, and some are raised by neither their mother nor father (Dann, 1987; Roberts & Sinclair, 1978; Russell-Brown, et al., 1997). The possible consequences of childshifting are discussed in a later section.


Physical punishment and verbal denigration are used to curb undesirable behaviors (see review by Brown & Williams, 2006). Praise or rewards are sporadic and public displays of affection are rare in African Caribbean families. In one survey, about 23.6% of children received praise for doing something that pleased the parent (LeoRhynie, 1997), and 74.6% of adults stated that they did not observe affection displayed between their parents when they were growing up (Wyatt et al., 1999). However, Handwerker (1996) determined that 58% of boys and 57% of girls were hugged and touched by their mothers regularly or “all the time”. Far fewer boys (24%) and girls (33%) were hugged and touched by their fathers regularly or frequently. Findings from related work (Payne & Furnham, 1992) carried out on parenting in Barbados lend support to the gender of parent disparity in levels of nurturance offered to children. It should be mentioned that affection is displayed in different forms. Forty-eight percent of professional adults (from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Kitts-Nevis, and St. Lucia) in Gopaul-McNicol’s (1998) survey indicated that affection was delivered through nonphysical means: sacrificing one’s own needs for one’s children, educating children despite economic hardship, and using nicknames. There is an entrenched socio-cultural system whereby boys and girls are provided with gender-segregated opportunities to engage in different activities in the home and community. In a number of Island communities, girls are given chores that are confined to the home, whereas boys are permitted to get involved in activities away from home. Furthermore, parents may furnish their children with sextyped toys, reward play with “gender similar” toys and punish crossgender toy preferences and play (e.g., “Boys do that” and “Girls don’t do that”) (Leo-Rhynie, 1995, 1997). In short, children are socialized within a milieu of gender bifurcation. Beyond Parenting Styles-Academic Socialization at Home Following the work of Grolnick and Slowiaczek (1994), academic socialization is conceptualized as a multidimensional construct com-


posed of parents’ interactions in children’s learning activities at home (e.g., supervision of homework, practicing what was learned in school, etc.) and parent-school contact initiated by parents (e.g., volunteering at school, attending parent-teacher meetings, monitoring school activities). Both of these constructs have been linked to school readiness (Epstein, 1996; Hill, 2001) and higher levels of school achievement (see Epstein, 1996; Kohl, Lengua, & McMahon, 2000; Snyder, 2000). But what constitutes parental involvement in academic activities varies by ethnicity and socio-economic background, level of parental education, family structure, school characteristics and practices, teacher practices, and age of child (Feuerstein, 2000; Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski, & Apostoleris, 1997; Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta, 1999). Academic socialization is a family affair among Caribbean immigrants in the United States. Caribbean immigrant mothers reported that they spent 8.21 hours, their spouses 4.40 hours, grandparents 1.83 hours, and other relatives (uncles, aunts, cousins, and other kinship members) 2.18 hours per week on academic activities such as reading, counting, printing and drawing, and reciting the alphabet with their pre-kindergarten and kindergarten age children. Profiles of children’s activities at home indicated that they spent considerable amounts of time in literacytype activities and in playing. Parent-school contacts that involved meeting with the child’s teacher about schoolwork and school performance and behavioral/discipline problems were reasonably good. Mothers had higher levels of parent-school contacts and academic socialization at home than fathers did. Fathers’ levels of school contacts were associated with children’s language skills and fathers’ levels of academic socialization at home were positively related to children’s social behaviors (Roopnarine et al., 2006). Beyond these meager findings, these processes need to be teased out in relation to Caribbean children. The Profiles Project in Jamaica has begun the task of isolating factors (socio-economic status, parental education, parental stress, reading books, and


early childhood experience) that contribute to successful school outcomes. Again, the quality of parenting is a major player. Childhood Mental Health The mental health of children in the Caribbean is beginning to receive more attention. The bulk of the studies has been on adolescent children with very little attention paid to the etiology of behavioral difficulties in younger children. The prevalence of childhood disorders in Caribbean countries is a matter of speculation. Some researchers have used scales developed in the United States and validated in other cultures (e.g., CBCL) to assess child behavior problems in some Caribbean countries (Achenbach, 2004). The validity of instruments used to assess childhood disorders will not be entertained here. A broad discussion of cross-cultural equivalence appears later on. The findings of a large-scale survey (Halcon et al., 2003a, 2003b) of the health and well being of children (78.5% Black of African heritage) across nine countries (Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and St. Lucia) offer a glimpse at the overall state of the mental health of older Caribbean children. Roughly 83% of children between 12 and 18 years saw themselves as happy, 80.3% reported being in excellent or good health, and 65.9% declared that they had not had sexual intercourse. By contrast, 15% of respondents experienced emotional distress, 12% reported having attempted suicide, 15.9% stated that they were physically abused, and 9.9% said they were sexually abused (Halcon et al., 2003a, 2003b). Among Jamaican eleventh and twelfth graders, 78.5% had witnessed violence in their communities, 60.8% in their schools, and 44.7% in their homes (Haniff, 1998; Soyibo & Lee, 1999). Disorders during the early childhood years are likely to be the outcomes of maltreatment, abandonment, malnutrition, poor parenting skills, inter-parental conflict, family and community violence, instability in living arrangements due to child-shifting and mateshifting or divorce, employment and underemployment, and the


effects of paternal presence and absence on children’s social and intellectual development. In view of the severity of the consequences of domestic violence, inter-adult conflicts, harsh parental treatment, and divorce in other cultural groups, we may perhaps assume that psychopathological outcomes—antisocial behaviors, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, relationship and parenting problems and so on-- are likely for Caribbean children as well (Amato, 2000; Amato & Sobolewski, 2001, 2004; Baumrind, Larzelere, & Cowan, 2002; Cummings, Goeke-Morey, & Raymond, 2004; Gershoff, 2002; Holden & Barker, 2004). During early childhood, African Caribbean boys run a greater risk of being abandoned than girls. More boys (61.4%) than girls (38.6%) are abandoned at early ages (Brodber, 1968; Sargent & Harris, 1992). This may be attributed to behavioral characteristics of children, such as being rude, to economic conditions, and/or to the personal attributes of parents and their ideological beliefs about gender (Sargent & Harris, 1992). Although the data mostly reflect rates of physical punishment, several authors have suggested that severe physical punishment has negative consequences on the psychosocial development of Caribbean children and serves to undermine parent-child communication (see Smith & Mosby, 2003). Other threats to children’s well being are prolonged separations from parents due to mate-shifting, child-shifting, and migration. Lengthy separations can cause difficulties in attachment relationships for children (Bowlby, 1969). Not only do children confront losses to primary attachment figures, they have to cope with establishing attachment bonds to new caregivers that may then be severed upon re-unification with biological parents (see Arnold, 1997; Sharpe, 1993, 1997). The mental health implications of the disruptive separation-attachment formation experiences of Caribbean children are only now being studied. Jamaican children who experienced migration loss had increased depressive and suicidal


thoughts, negative perceptions of self, and poor school performance (Pottinger, 2005). Chances are, in the absence of mental health services in most of the Caribbean, these children mourn silently in the face of their attachment difficulties. The data on paternal instability raise some disturbing possibilities for children. Paternal instability during childhood increases the likelihood that children will experience malnutrition, developmental delays, or abuse, display passive dependency, experience early weaning from breast feeding, and be abandoned (see Allen, 1985; Quinlan et al., 2003; Sargent & Harris, 1992; Sharpe, 1997). And children who live with stepfathers, half-siblings, or single parents without kinship support have higher cortisol levels (indicator of stress) than children who live in two-parent households. Overall, the two-parent households offered children more stable caregiving environments, and had less conflict and more affectionate interactions than the other living arrangements (Flinn & England, 1995). In the same vein, Guyanese men in simple nuclear households had higher levels of involvement with their children than men in non-nuclear households, and irrespective of socioeconomic status, those who had affectionate relationships with their fathers were more involved with their children (Wilson and Kposowa, 1994). Theoretical Frameworks and Methodological Concerns In the spirit of “many mentalities, one mind” (Shweder et al., 1998), there are several frameworks that can be used to guide research on the constellation of cultural factors that influence the course of childhood development in the Caribbean. Having as their main purpose the goal of codifying the cultural elements of human development, they may be viewed on a continuum of models or implicit theory substitutes for more substantiated theories. Because they are discussed in great detail by their originators elsewhere, they are just listed here. These frameworks include, but are not limited to: • psychocultural models (network of relationships, the im-


mediate environment, political and social institutions, beliefs and values, and so on) (Whiting & Whiting, 1975), •the developmental niche (customs, settings, and parental psychology) (Super & Harkness, 1997) and microniche models (Weisner, 1998), •bio-ecological model (delineating nested systems and subsystems that influence the lives of children and families) (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998), • biosocial perspective (mating, parenting, and relationship effort) (Draper & Harpending, 1982: Hewlett, 1992; Marlowe, 1999), •continuous contact and care model (feeding routines, holding patterns and caregiver transfers, co-sleeping), parenting model of hierarchical goals (LeVine, 1974), •reproduction of culture (Carsaro, 1992), •socio-cultural perspective (Vygotsky, 1978) and culturalhistorical activity theory (Cole, 1996), •ecocultural model (Ogbu, 1983), •segmented assimilation (Portes & Zhou, 1993), and •creolization (Smith, 1962). Collectively, the utility of these frameworks in formulating research questions is demonstrated in wide-ranging research projects conducted in different parts of the world. Take for example the biosocial perspective--the mating and parenting effort hypothesis has been tested among the Hadza of Tanzania (Marlowe, 1999), the Australian aboriginal community (Burbank & Chisholm, 1992), Trinidadians (Flinn, 1992), and Dominicans (Quinlan & Flinn, 2003). By far, the psycho-cultural model and its offspring (developmental niche and microniche) have been employed more widely than other models to examine processes of childhood socialization in several cultures around the world (see The Six Culture Study, Whiting & Whiting, 1975; Children of Different Worlds,


Whiting & Edwards, 1988), and to assess parental beliefs about caregiving and early childhood education in cultural groups in the United States, Europe, and Africa. Likewise, the bio-ecological model (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998) has guided research all over the world. In the area of early learning and schooling, the cultural-historical (Vygotsky, 1978) or cultural-historical activity theory, as Cole (1996, 2003) preferentially refers to his own reconceptualization, has been instrumental in unfolding cultural processes in literacy and schooling. There is an obvious need for researchers to incorporate contextual and culturally sensitive frameworks when investigating childhood development in Caribbean families. In our quest for unique theoretical frameworks and measurement strategies, all too often the English-speaking Caribbean is treated as a homogeneous entity. A general practice has been to ignore inter-country similarities/ differences in childrearing. When focusing on generalizability across Caribbean groups and between Caribbean and other cultural groups, the examination of cultural generality should be understood within the framework of measurement equivalence. Cross-cultural studies on socialization can be faulted for not sufficiently establishing minimum standards of cultural equivalence. It is necessary to take into account several theoretical and methodological considerations when implementing investigations of cross-country generalizability. Four aspects of measurement equivalence shed light on the problem: (1) Conceptual equivalence proposes that the definition and meaning of the various aspects of socialization should be understood within the frame of the specific country/culture. Definitions for socialization, for example, cannot be assumed to be similar across the Caribbean or ethnic groups. African Caribbean parenting behaviors may have different meanings (in practice and in terms of childhood outcomes) than those of Indo Caribbean socialization behaviors. (2) Operational equivalence proposes that children in different


countries/cultures respond to the same item similarly. Hence, instruments or observational methods should be similar in content (e.g., meaning of terms) and also have similar response scales. It is in this domain that the limitations of cross-country similarities in childrearing are most evident. Many questionnaires and instruments are applied across the Caribbean without assessment of their validity and reliability in different countries. Care should be taken with using specific country phrases and words or speech patterns, and meanings should also be incorporated within measurement of the construct. Literacy levels of families, cultural mores and practices, place of administration, and methods used (interview, questionnaire, observation) are all integral to assuring operational equivalence. (3) Scalar specificity refers to item equivalence across cultural communities. Conceptual and operational equivalence do not assure equivalence at the item level. The factor structure and strength of factor loadings ensure item equivalence. Affirmation of equivalence at the item level allows for meaningful interpretation of similarities or differences of the construct at the scale level. (4) Functional specificity is a measure of correlates of the constructs across countries (e.g., correlations among parenting styles and children’s academic performance). Even though the nature and strength of relationships may be quite comparable, they do not necessarily imply a Caribbean-wide pattern. The meaning of relationships should be interpreted from the perspective of the cultural lens of each country (Krishnakumar, Buehler, & Barber, 2004; Van De Vijver, & Leung, 1997). The Research Agenda on Caribbean Children In concluding I offer some suggestions for research on childrearing and childhood development in Caribbean families. These questions can be answered by using diverse methodologies. 1. How do parenting styles, practices, and beliefs interrelate to influence children’s cognitive and social skills during the early childhood years? Do relationships vary across SES, ethnic/ cultural, or parent and child gender?


2. What are parents’ beliefs or ideas about when common developmental constructs (e.g., when can children count to from 1 to10, tie their shoes, read simple words and sentences, etc.) emerge in children? Do these ideas or beliefs differ by SES, gender of parent and child, or ethnicity? What are parents’ expectations of their children at different ages by varying demographic characteristics? 3. How do children define the meaning of “family,” “father,” and “mother”? How do these meanings influence childhood development? 4. How do child characteristics (temperament, willingness to be socialized) influence parenting and subsequently child outcomes? 5. How are patterns of extensive caregiving related to quality of attachment relationships to mothers, fathers, and other caregivers within and between ethnic and SES groups? 6. How do transnational parenting and serial migration influence parent-child attachment and child outcomes? 7. What are the linguistic patterns, narrative styles, and academic activities that parents/caregivers engage in with children? How do they shape school readiness? 8. What are the cognitive and social dynamics of sibling relationships? As can be deduced, we have much work ahead of us. More energy should be directed at teasing out intra- and intercultural processes in childrearing and how they affect/influence social and academic outcomes in the diverse groups of families in different Caribbean communities. Armed with such data, our policy and intervention efforts will be more efficacious.


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