Despite well-known associations between heavy drinking and child physical abuse, little is known about specific risks related to drinking different amounts of alcohol in different drinking venues. This study uses a context-specific dose–response model to examine how drinking in various venues (e.g., at bars or parties) is related to physically abusive parenting practices while controlling for individual and psychosocial characteristics.
Data were collected via a telephone survey of parents in 50 cities in California, resulting in 2,163 respondents who reported drinking in the past year. Child physical abuse and corporal punishment were measured using the Conflict Tactics Scale, Parent–Child version. Drinking behaviors were measured using continued drinking measures. Data were analyzed using zero-inflated Poisson models.
Drinking at homes, parties, or bars more frequently was related to greater frequencies of physically abusive parenting practices. The use of greater amounts of alcohol in association with drinking at bars appeared to increase risks of corporal punishment, a dose–response effect. Dose–response relationships were not found for drinking at homes or parties or drinking at bars for physical abuse nor for drinking at home and parties for corporal punishment.
Frequencies of using drinking venues, particularly bars and home or parties, are associated with greater use of abusive parenting practices. These findings suggest that a parent's routine drinking activities place children at different risks of being physically abused. They also suggest that interventions that take into account parents’ alcohol use at drinking venues are an important avenue for secondary prevention efforts.