Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Price of prison for children

Date:
August 9, 2010
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
It comes as no surprise that many children suffer when a parent is behind bars. But as rates of incarceration grew over the past 30 years, researchers were slow to focus on the collateral damage to children.

It comes as no surprise that many children suffer when a parent is behind bars. But as rates of incarceration grew over the past 30 years, researchers were slow to focus on the collateral damage to children.

Related Articles


The best estimate says that at any one time, 1.7 million (about 2.3 percent) of all American children have a parent in prison, says Julie Poehlmann, a professor in the School of Human Ecology and investigator at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"By age 14, more than half of black children with a low-education parent, will have an imprisoned parent," she says.

About 10 years ago, the problem finally began to spark interest from social scientists, Poehlmann says.

"School personnel and child welfare personnel are now seeing more and more children who have a current or past incarcerated parent. There is a greater awareness of the volume, and greater need to understand what's going on. What are the risks, what are the outcomes, and how can we better help these children?" Poehlmann says.

Although a definitive cause-and-effect relationship has not been established, children of incarcerated parents tend to have more arrests, and more problems with behavior, relationships, school, and substance abuse. "It's all the things you would expect," says Poehlmann.

Problems are particularly acute when the mother is in jail or prison. "It's more likely that the child will move out of house, and be placed with grandparents," she says. "They are more likely to change schools and have a higher risk of substance abuse, and the father is also likely to be incarcerated."

Poehlmann, who has studied mothers, substitute caregivers and children in Milwaukee, Racine, Green Bay, Beloit and other parts of Wisconsin, finds that a strong, close attachment with the alternative caregiver can mitigate the harm of incarceration.

"I don't find it surprising how important the caregiver is. In the past, interventions tended to focus on the parent, with little or no focus on the caregiver, the quality of the home environment, or the nature of the attachment between child and caregiver, yet these are all critical to how the child is doing," she says.

Despite the risks, 25 to 30 percent of children escape the worst harm, Poehlmann says. "When I look at the factors that facilitate resilience, secure attachment appears to be protective," she says.

In one of her studies, kids aged 9 to 14 who had a positive relationship with a caregiver had fewer behavior problems six months later.

Although it's assumed that contact with an imprisoned parent will help the child, Poehlmann finds that this is not always true.

"Visits when the parent is behind Plexiglas are not always positive. Alternative means of contact, like letters, may be more positive" for kids who are traumatized by prison visits, she says.

School districts are belatedly trying to address the extra needs of these children, says Poehlmann. Incarcerated parents are "one reason why districts like Milwaukee are having so many problems with truancy and graduation rates. There is probably a huge proportion of kids having these problems--the parents are incarcerated--and yet the school district may never learn of that fact."

The long-term picture is bleak, Poehlmann adds. "Children of incarcerated parent are at least two and a half times more likely to be incarcerated themselves. Just imagine the scale of the crisis in another 10 or 15 years. It's overwhelming," she says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. The original article was written by David Tenenbaum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Price of prison for children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809142050.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2010, August 9). Price of prison for children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809142050.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Price of prison for children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809142050.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins