One In 14 Children Have Parent Behind Bars; Health, Esteem Suffers


One in 14 children have at least one parent behind bars and children in these situations suffer from low self esteem, poor mental and physical health, and other problems, says a report from Child Trends, an organization based in Bethesda, Md. USA Today says the group hopes its report, Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children?, will prompt prisons, schools and lawmakers to make changes that will help young people who have incarcerated parents. “We feel it’s important to put this on the radar screen” and help people “realize there’s more to it than the adults themselves,” said report co-author David Murphey.

The report indicates that when it comes to black children, the number who have had an incarcerated parent rises to one in nine, and poor children are three times more likely to have had an incarcerated parent than children from higher income households. Rural children are more likely than urban children to have had an incarcerated parent. In the 6-to-11 age group, children who have had parents behind bars have problems in school, and the likelihood of such problems increases among older children, according to the report. “Most research finds negative outcomes for these children, such as childhood health and behavioral problems and grade retention,” Murphey said. “Children who grow up with a parent in prison are more likely to suffer from poor mental and physical health in adulthood.”

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