The relationship of parenting styles to depression scores was not consistent across countries. Parenting styles had a stronger relationship to depressive symptoms in Jamaica and St. Kitts than in the other two nations. Authoritative parenting style in St. Kitts was associated with the lowest levels of depressive symptoms. In Jamaica authoritarian and neglectful parenting styles were associated with the highest symptoms of depression. Contrary to previous research [3, 50, 61] this study found that Caribbean parents did not predominately utilize an authoritarian parenting style. Instead, it appears that they use a mixture of different parenting styles with the two most popular styles being authoritative and neglectful parenting. Further, it appears that the distribution of parenting styles was not consistent across nations.
Possible explanations for national differences in levels of depressive symptoms
Jamaican adolescents reported the highest levels of depressive symptoms with a large proportion reporting symptoms in the moderate to severe range of depression. This prevelance of depressive symptoms was substantially higher than that found in samples of students in the US (41% :, 15%; ), in Bosnia & Herzegovina (32%; ) or in Italy (18%; ), Social and economic inequalities, limited and inadequate infrastructural resources and high rates of violence in Jamaica  may explain the possible reasons for such high rates of depressive symptoms in Jamaica. Additionally, the structure and functioning of the educational system may contribute to elevated levels of depressive symptoms. Jamaican adolescents are highly streamed into academic tracks. Past research has found that academic tracking is associated with high levels of depressive symptoms .
It is also possible that these findings simply reflect the fact that the largest proportion of adolescents 15 years of age were from Jamaica while the sample from the Bahamas included a larger proportion of adolescents 13 to 14 years of age. It should be noted that the peak prevalence of adolescent depression occurs around 15 years of age . Further, authoritarian parenting may be more detrimental to older adolescents, thus possibly explaining the differences in levels of depressive symptoms by parenting style by country for Jamaica versus the Bahamas.
Students from St. Vincent also reported high levels of depressive symptomatology, although not as high as Jamaican students. The social and economic situation in St. Vincent may contribute to depressive symptoms. Data from CARICOM suggests that there are limited resources and opportunities for citizens of St. Vincent, as well as a high level of unemployment . As such, students from St. Vincent are at increased risk for depression like their peers in Jamaica. Similarly, students in St. Vincent are also academically streamed, thereby possibly contributing to depressive symptoms.
Prevalence of parenting styles
Literature has often suggested that Caribbean parents use authoritarian parenting styles coupled with harsh disciplinary practices [3, 4, 7, 14, 17, 69, 70]. The current study suggested that parents in the Caribbean may use a variety of parenting styles. For example, in St. Vincent parents tend to use predominately a neglectful parenting style. Practically, this finding suggests that the students often felt that they did not receive much parental monitoring or nurturance. Previous research has suggested that neglectful parenting styles may place adolescents at increased risk for depression . According to the population and housing census 2001 of St. Vincent and the Grenadines , many children whose parents had migrated, were parented by extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The report further suggested that the quality of such relationships may have lacked nurturance and some aspects of parental monitoring as well.
Contrary to previous research it appears that adolescents in the Bahamas, Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis report that their parents may prefer to utilize an authoritative parenting style. Adolescents who experience this style of parenting reported that they felt that they had received high levels of both parental monitoring and nurturance. It is possible that with the implementation of parenting programs such as the Roving Caregiver Programme in Jamaica, St. Vincent, Dominica and St. Lucia  the parenting style may have metamorphosised. The Roving Caregivers Programme provides trained early childhood educators who visit parents and children in their households to educate them in appropriate parenting skills as well as encouraging intellectual development through interactions with both caregivers and children.
Alternatively, research on parenting in the Caribbean has focused on parents’ disciplinary practices, characterizing parents who report they use harsh discipline as having an authoritarian parenting style (e.g. ). The current project examines the full range of parenting practices, both positive and negative, allowing for other styles of parenting to emerge. Our approach to assessing parenting styles considers two independent dimensions (nurturance and monitoring) along which childrearing practices may be conceptualized. Under this approach, it is possible for caregivers to utilize a combination of monitoring practices along with differing levels of nurturance. Previous research has focused on parenting styles from the perspective of the caregivers. This project examines parenting practices from the perspective of adolescents. This may help to explain the apparent discrepancy with previous research.
Parenting and depressive symptoms
While the predominant parenting style was authoritative in this Caribbean study, the authors found that this parenting style, which involves higher levels of warmth as well as monitoring, is associated with adolescents reporting lower levels of depressive symptoms. This is consistent with international literature [6, 71]. Further, the permissive parenting style was also associated with lower depression scores. Past research suggests  that the high levels of warmth and low levels of monitoring characteristic of permissive parenting leads to less conflict and lower levels of internalizing problems, such as depression and anxiety.
Almost two-thirds of adolescents who experienced authoritative or permissive parenting reported minimal symptoms of depression, while only 5% of these adolescents reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression. This is in sharp contrast to those adolescents who experienced authoritarian or neglectful parenting, both of which involve low levels of warmth and nurturance. In the latter groups, nearly half of all adolescents reported moderate to severe levels of depressive symptoms, further underscoring the importance of parental nurturance as a protective factor against the development of depressive symptoms .
The association of parenting styles to depressive symptoms was not consistent among as well as within the Caribbean nations examined. Adolescents who reported that their parents used a neglectful parenting style had higher levels of depressive symptoms generally, with Jamaican adolescents who perceived neglectful parenting reporting the highest differences in depressive symptoms when compared to all other participants. Further, the difference in BDI-II scores for adolescents who reported their parents used either a neglectful or authoritarian parenting style versus an authoritative parenting style was significantly greater in Jamaica than the other three Caribbean nations. These differences in levels of depressive symptoms by parenting styles in Jamaica may be magnified by the socio-economic conditions (e.g.; academic tracking and violence) that exist in Jamaica and that do not exist to the same extent in the other nations.
Adolescents who reported that their parents used an authoritative parenting style did not have similar BDI-II scores across the islands. Teenagers from the Bahamas reported lower BDI-II scores than those from the other three islands. This finding may reflect a interactive relationship between authoritative parenting styles and better socio-economic conditions such as school resources, family income levels, and greater prevalence of two parent families .
Gender and parenting styles
Across the Caribbean, this study found that parenting style was unevenly distributed with respect to gender of the child, such that girls were more likely to receive authoritative parenting styles than their male counterparts. This is consistent with previous research [16, 69] which reports that Caribbean parents tend to give more freedom, less parental monitoring and less emotional nurturance to boys [16, 69, 75]. Previous research has also reported that this pattern of parenting did not hold true for middle class parents who were stated to show more parental monitoring and nurturance to their children regardless of gender.
Limitations of the research
This project had several key limitations. Data on parenting and depressive symptoms were collected at only one point in time. As such, the cross-sectional design of the study does not allow a causal association of parenting to depressive symptoms to be established. Adolescents reported on the parenting behaviours of their caregivers. Consequently, their reports of parenting may not actually reflect the parenting practices of their caregivers. Similarly, as students completed a self-report measure of depressive symptoms it was not possible to determine if students were clinically depressed. Students were not sampled from all islands comprising the Bahamas or St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Only students in New Providence Island in the Bahamas and St. Vincent were included in this research project. As such, the findings reported here may not be representative of what may be found in the other islands of the Bahamas or the Grenadines. The data for this project were collected from students on only one school day. As such, children who wished to avoid participation in the research may not have attended schools on the day of data collection. However, many of the students expressed strong interest in the research project. Consequently, many of the students were keen to take part in the project.