Children With An Incarcerated Parent: Behavioral Health, Actions, and Everyday Social Life

My name is Teyonna Little. I am a ninth grade student at Science Leadership Academy. For the fourth quarter project at SLA, the ninth grade class are researching and studying issues in the world that affects them personally or that they are deeply interested in. This project is called You and The World. After seeking multiple topics about youth and issues concerning North Philadelphia specifically, I came up with an idea that affects me personally and young children and teens all over the world. I chose to focus on “Children with Incarcerated Parents or a parent.” While doing this topic, my goal is to learn more about the way children respond to their parent being imprisoned and they everyday behavior concerning their social life and different environments. I am really interested in learning more about this topic because I currently go through the same issue, with my biological father being incarcerated for a long period of time. These behaviors and responses in this specific group of children matters today because it affects their future, their behaviors, and what they would be like, or who they would be throughout the rest of their lives. It is important to know this so that others who don’t struggle with the same issue will know how to respond to certain reactions and completely understand why someone is acting the way they are acting.

Children with a parent or parents in jail or in prison has a common symptom or sign that they are going through something specifically dealing with their behavioral health. You can see this in their social lifestyle; rather someone else is bringing up their missing parent at a school event or they are really withdrawn when other adults talk about it. They tend to become antisocial, and isn’t so comfortable around certain things and certain people. They are emotional and can struggle in school or just simply having a hard time being around other children. Research shows that children and teenagers with incarcerated parents or parent have 8 of 16 mental and physical health issues.  

As I am continuing with my research concerning this issue, my understanding becomes more open and more clear of behaviors I have experienced with myself in my past and in my present. There is so much more to be opened and shared, and I am determined to get others more aware of these children and their behaviors. As of now, I am wondering and more open to know about how these behaviors are dealt with, how the parent that is incarcerated feel, and how life and opportunities can be made easier and less stressful regarding a strong relationship with the wired fence between children and their parent.

Written by Daniel P. Mears and Sonja E. Siennick from Florida State University, they reflect on adult children and how having an incarcerated parent affects their future.

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