Does Ethnicity Matter? Social Workers’ Personal Attitudes and Professional Behaviors in Reporting Child Maltreatment

  • Vicki Ashton York College of The City University of New York
Keywords: Professional socialization and ethnicity, culture, attitudes and social work practice, personal values and professional practice, corporal punishment and maltreatment


This study examined differences in the attitudes of professional social workers regarding corporal punishment and the perception and reporting of child maltreatment, according to the worker’s ethnic group membership (Asian, Black American, Black Caribbean, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White). Data were obtained by mailed questionnaires from 808 members of the New York City chapter of NASW. Data were analyzed by analysis of variance. Results indicate that approval of corporal punishment and perception of maltreatment differed according to ethnic group membership. However, ethnicity had no effect on the likelihood of reporting maltreatment. Findings suggest that social work values override personal-culture values in the execution of job-related responsibilities. Implications for education and practice are discussed.

Author Biography

Vicki Ashton, York College of The City University of New York
Professor of Social Work York College/CUNY, Department of Social Sciences