Incarceration Essay

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Between 1990 and 2007, the number of children under 18 years old with an incarcerated parent in the United States increased from 945,600 to 1,706,600, reaching 2.3% of the nation’s children (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). These children can suffer from traumatic separation, loneliness, stigma, confused explanations to children, unstable childcare arrangements, strained parenting, reduced income, and home, school, and neighborhood moves. (Murray, Farrington, and Sekol 2012). Additionally, these children are put into high stress life events while their parents go through the process of being incarcerated and likely had other stressors before their incarceration. The behavioral effects of these children and their families have urgent social concerns, as incarceration effects go far outside of prison walls. Children experience parental incarceration under many differing circumstances and behavioral effects vary according to which parent was incarcerated, prior living arrangements, the quality of parent-child relationships before incarceration, the child’s age at the time of incarceration, the nature and length of the sentence, alternative care arrangements, contact with the incarcerated parent, and how other family members cope with the event (Murray, et al. 2012). Because the circumstances of parental incarceration are varied, the attitudes and behavior of children varies as well. Mike Hubbard, District Judge for Polk County, discussed that when a family member is awaiting sentencing it is more likely that he looks at how the family can support the offender, not how the offender helps support the family. While this makes sense for the best interest of the offender to be rehabilitated successfully, if the family life isn’t conducive for... ... middle of paper ... ...ack of availability of the attachment figure, and comprised alternative care arrangements (Murray and Murray, 2009). Considering the extreme disadvantage that most families are at before parental incarceration (Mignon and Ransford, 2012) it is likely that there are multiple factors, beyond incarceration alone, leading to the behavioral problems these children face. Some children who have incarcerated family members tend to act out because they think someone will take pity on them and not discipline them, while other students, who may be victims of domestic violence, are very reserved and don’t say anything because they are afraid. (Amelia Meith Interview). Therefore, different interventions are needed for each individual situation. It is important for these children to have adults in their lives who are trained to identify these interventions and provide support.

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