Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Who's the fairest of them all?

Harsh Punishment by Adolescent Mothers

Statistics show that adolescent mothers are more likely than adult mothers to punish children in a harsh manner. "Harsh" can mean psychologically or physically harmful. Certain influences can act as risk factors or protective factors for harsh punishment (Lee, 2013).

Risks associated with harsh punishment by adolescent mothers:

  • Relationship/support from parents
  • Number of children
  • Education
  • Employment status
  • High "expected" social support
  • Paternal Support
  • No/little identification with racial or ethnic heritage
  • Religious practice
  • Depression

(Lee, 2013).

Protective factors against harsh punishment by adolescent mothers:

  • Positive, supportive relationship with parents
  • Having fewer children
  • Completion of high school
  • Not working directly after having child
  • Low expectations for social support
  • Paternal support
  • Strong ties to racial or ethnic heritage
  • Frequent participation in religious practice
  • Positive outlook

(Lee, 2013).

Why does this matter?

The effects of child maltreatment can manifest in many different ways throughout development.
  • low self-esteem
  • academic failure
  • aggression
  • peer difficulties/poor social skills
  • substance abuse
  • anxiety
  • self-blame
  • physical delays/central nervous system damage

(Berk, 2010).

What should be done?

  1. EDUCATION - at family, community, and societal levels
  2. Provide social support

(Berk, 2010).


Lee, Y. (2013). Adolescent motherhood and capital: Interaction effects of race/ethnicity on harsh parenting. Journal Of Community Psychology, 41(1), 102-116. doi:10.1002/jcop.21517

Berk, L.E. (2010). Development through the lifespan (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn &