Child Discipline Tactics by Criminal Justice Involved Women Following a Nursing Intervention

Thursday, 25 July 2013: 1:55 PM

Mary W. Byrne, PhD, DNP, MPH, FAAN
School of Nursing, Columbia University, New York, NY

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify an advanced practice nurse's role in a prison nursery intervention.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe risk factors and prevention strategies useful for women at high risk for poor parenting strategies.


As part of a larger National Institutes of Health-funded study of maternal and child outcomes during and following the years spent in a United States prison nursery program, this study question explores the relationship between criminal justice history and parenting risk factors in a sample of women at risk for poor parenting and their subsequent child discipline practices during the preschool years.


The Conflict Tactics Scale – Parent Child version, which assesses parent discipline strategies, was completed in writing by 53 women who enrolled with a newborn in the first longitudinal study measuring attachment, child development, and criminal recidivism outcomes following co-residence in a prison nursery program and reenrolled in a long-term follow-up study in the free community 2 to 4 years later. Mothers participated in a nursing attachment-based intervention with weekly visits during prison and telephone and mail interaction during the reentry years. Multiple questionnaires and interviews were completed to address several aims in this multi-method study. For this study question, data from CTS-PC were correlated with data on parenting stress, depression, social support, substance abuse, maternal separations and living arrangements.


For a sample of women who raised infants in a prison nursery and had other criminal history and parenting risk factors, the choices they made in child discipline practices during preschool years did not differ from an epidemiologic sample of healthy community parents.  Virtually all used nonviolent discipline strategies of explaining or distracting and the psychologic aggression measures of yelling and threatening to spank. About half used corporal punishment consisting of slapping or spanking on average every other month. There was almost no severe physical assault and there was no extreme assault.


Stressed and high risk mothers, including those with criminal justice involvement, and their children merit interventional services without stigma to improve parenting outcomes.