Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding Parental Historical Trauma and the Effect on Second-Generation Cambodian Americans
by Pol-Lim, Sara Socheata, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2018, 137; 10825172
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative research study examines the effects of parental historical trauma on the educational aspirations and outcomes of second-generation Cambodian Americans. Twenty second-generation Cambodian Americans whose parents survived the Cambodian genocide (1975–1979) participated. The dissertation utilized the conceptual framework of historical trauma to navigate the research questions: 1). To what extent are children of Cambodian genocide survivors affected by the trauma their parents experienced and what form does this inherited trauma take? 2). What home experiences enhance or hinder academic aspirations and outcomes of the children of Cambodian genocide survivors? 3). What are the supportive networks and actions that foster hope and positive development for second-generation Cambodian Americans? The data were analyzed using qualitative methods and NVivo software. Three key themes were found. The first theme was unresolved trauma. As a result, parental guidance and an open relationship between parents and children were limited. The second theme was overprotection. It was a common behavior among parents who survived the genocide to want to shield their children from any unforeseen circumstances. The last key finding was a lack of communication between parents and children due to a language barrier.

Building on the findings of this study, it is recommended that schools with large Cambodian American populations should educate later generations about Cambodian history, including the Genocide, and provide dual immersion language classes. This would help to interrupt intergenerational trauma, reduce the language barrier, and allow students and their parents to find purpose and peace. Future research should explore the experiences of survivors, including survivors who lived through the genocide but did not suffer persecution. Such research could lead to truth and reconciliation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Symcox, Linda
Commitee: Garcia, Robert, Jeynes, Williams, Kim, Simon
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian American Studies, Education history, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Cambodian Americans, Cambodian refugees, Genocide studies, Historical trauma, Inter generational trauma, Prolonged grief
Publication Number: 10825172
ISBN: 978-0-438-19665-0
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