Children of Incarcerated Parents Essay

Children of Incarcerated Parents Essay

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When a person becomes a parent, their role in life undoubtedly changes. The person must become a teacher, a guide, and a helping hand in the life of the child. Research has shown that there is a distinct connection between how a child is raised and their overall developmental outcome. John Bowlby’s attachment theory emphasizes the importance of the regular and sustained contact between the parent-infant or parent-child relationship (Travis & Waul 2003). Yet, what happens when the only physical contact a child can share with their parent is a hand pressed on the shield of glass that separates the two? What happens when the last memory of their mother or father was from the corner of their own living room as they watched their parent become handcuffed? In 2007, there was an estimate of approximately 1.7 million children of incarcerated parents in the United States (Poehlmann, Dallaire, Loper & Shear 2010). Of those 1.7 million children, 58% of those children are under the age of 10, with the mean age being 8 (Travis & Waul 2003). The children of incarcerated parents are often moved from one family and one school to the next. The child must cope with this issue in home and in school, and may find it especially hard to cope with during school. Schools, however, can be a safe place for these children. This research explored the psychological effects of parent incarceration on the child, the school-based problems that occur as a result, and what educators can do to support children of incarcerated parents.
“While his mother cooked methamphetamine, Anthony watched television. That is what he was doing the day the police came. He was five years old (Bernstein 2005).” Being a child of an incarcerated parent is not just a traumatic ev...


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...students by developing effective mentoring programs in their schools in order for these students to reach their full potential. Ultimately, children of incarcerated parents have a voice and they need to be heard; to not become incarcerated in their own lives.



Works Cited

Bernstein, Nell. (2005). All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated. New York: The New Press.
Gabel, Katherine & Johnston, Denise. (1995). Children of Incarcerated Parents. New York, N.Y.: Lexington Books.
Travis, Jeremy & Waul, Michelle. (2003). Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities. The Urban Institute Press: Washington, D.C.
Vacca, James. (2008). Children of Incarcerated Parents: The invisible students in our schools—what can our schools do to help them? Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 21 (1). 49-56.

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