Immigrant Parents' Perceptions of School Environment and Children's Mental Health and Behavior

Authors


Hayley A. Hamilton, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, and Research Scientist, (hayley_hamilton@camh.net), Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, 455 Spadina Ave., Street 300, Toronto, ON M5S 2G8, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Research has increasingly identified the perception of school environment as an influential factor in children's lives. There has been sparse research attention, however, on the potential importance of parents' perceptions of school environment on child adjustment. This study examined the relationship between parents' perceptions of school environment and children's emotional and behavioral problems.

METHODS: Data were derived from the New Canadian Children and Youth Study, a study of the children (aged 4-6 and 11-13) of immigrant parents. Analyses focused on a subsample of Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, and Filipino immigrants in a large metropolitan area.

RESULTS: Parental perception of school environment was negatively associated with physical aggression in children even after controlling for child age and gender, parental characteristics, family functioning, and aspects of acculturation. In contrast, parental perception was not significantly related to symptoms of emotional distress in children. There were some ethnic differences in perception of school environment.

CONCLUSIONS: Parental perception of school environment is important to the well-being of the children of immigrant parents, and reinforces the relevance of initiatives to improve the dynamics between parents and schools.

Ancillary