Behavioral and emotional problems and parenting stress among Kampung Sungai Buah aborigine and non–aborigine children: a comparative cross-sectional study
Background and aims: There is a dearth of studies conducted on the Malaysian aborigine people who are known locally as the ‘Orang Asli’ (OA). The purpose of this study was to describe the behavioural and emotional problems in OA and non-aborigine (NA) children in Kampung Sungai Buah and its association with parenting stress in both communities. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional comparative community study. A total of 27 OA and 39 NA parents answered the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Parenting Stress Index (PSI) regarding 64 OA children and 80 NA children. Results: OA children had higher total SDQ scores than NA children (p = 0.010). However, OA children had less conduct problems than NA children (p = 0.005). OA showed overall lower parental distress (p = 0.032) compared to NA. OA mothers had more parental distress than OA fathers (p = 0.02). There was negatively moderate correlation between total SDQ and total PSI scores within both OA (r=-0.27) and NA (r=-0.50) communities. Conclusion: With the OA community being at a significant disadvantage in terms of education, and income, it is worrying that the Orang Asli children experience more behavioral and emotional problems compared to a conventional community. Further studies exploring OA parenting styles, help-seeking behavior and community support might provide more insight on how the OA parents approach child mental health problems.