Almost one in 40 children in the United States have an incarcerated parent (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). Recently, researchers have focused their attention on the long-term effects that incarceration has on a child's development. Our lab furthers the effort by exploring the impact of familial incarceration from several perspectives:
- Second Generation Prisoners
- Incarceration of Household Members
- Mothers in Prison
Second Generation Prisoners
We investigated whether prisoners who had a parent in prison, “second-generation prisoners,” had poorer rates of adjustment compared to those inmates who did not report a history of parental incarceration. Among a sample of 459 men and women in prison, approximately half reported having had a parent in prison or jail.
Our study showed ...
- There was considerable self-reported childhood adversity within the entire sample, with relatively higher levels reported by the second-generation prison group.
- Second-generation prisoners self-reported more anger and prison violence, and demonstrated a higher rate of institutional rule breaking in comparison to first-generation prisoners. Results were maintained after statistical control for the high rates of adversities in childhood.
- Post-hoc analysis revealed evident differences on adjustment variables between first-generation prisoners and individuals with a mother incarcerated, suggesting a more pronounced impact of maternal incarceration on long-term well-being.
- Results indicate that the negative effects of parental incarceration are evident within the prison community and have a significant relationship to the inmates’ adjustment while incarcerated.
We are currently looking at...
- Whether second generation prisoners self report more conduct disorder markers than their first generation counterparts?
- Are there significant differences in the school experiences of first versus second-generation prisoners?
Incarceration of Household Members - Implications for children's academic outcomes
Although several scholars point to the likelihood of the negative impact of parental incarceration on a youth’s academic outcomes, this association has yet to be observed on a national level (Murray & Farrington, 2008). Moreover, although extended family members play essential roles in the development and support of youth in their kinship network (Pallock & Lamborn, 2006; Wilson, 1989) little is known about the impact of incarceration of close extended kin. Our first study examined the association between incarceration of any household member and academic outcomes (high school graduation, drop out, grade retention) of youth who participated in National Longitudinal Survey of Youth – 79 Child/Youth Sample. The sample includes a nationally representative sample of 3338 (47.5% male) youth, born between 1973 and 1989. Participants and their caregivers were interviewed and completed various self-report measures biannually between 1983 and 2008. A subsample of 585 youth self reported that a “household member” was incarcerated after their 10th birthday and before their 18th birthday, and provided their age at incarceration of the incarceration (HMI).
Our study has shown that ....
- HMI youth had significantly higher levels of poverty ((2 = 57.86, p < .001), lower home quality ratings (t = 4.77, p < .001), lower estimates of intelligence (PPVT; t = 4.06, p < .001) and significantly less mothers with high school degrees (( 2 = 17.98, p < .001). They also had significantly worse academic outcomes when compared with the rest of the sample.
- Hierarchical logistic regression analyses reveled a significant association between HMI and failure to graduate high school (Nagelkerke R Square = 0.121, Wald = 8.11, p = .004) and dropping out of high school for one month or longer and returning (drop out-return; Nagelkerke R Square = .099, Wald = 25.83, p < .001) , when controlling for above differences.
- HMI does not significantly account for variance in grade retention.
- Having a parent incarcerated was significantly associated with higher likelihood of drop out-return.
- Having a sibling incarcerated was significantly associated with higher likelihood of failure to graduate high school.
- Having an extended household member (cousin, aunt/uncle, grandparent, non-relative) incarcerated was significantly associated with higher likelihood of both drop out-return and failure to graduate high school
These results underscore the association between negative academic outcomes and household incarceration, and highlight the importance of school awareness and prevention for this high-risk population.
We are currently looking at....
- Association between household member incarceration and risky sexual behaviors
- Protective factors that promote resiliency in children with incarcerated household members.
Incarceration of Household Members - Implications for adolescent sexual health
Parental incarceration is associated with multiple with negative outcomes including lower academic achievement (Trice & Brewster, 2004), mental illness (Dallaire & Wilson, 2010), stigma (Hagen & Myers, 2003), family disruption (Arditti & Fes, 2006), crime (Hubener & Gustafson, 2007), and other forms of antisocial behavior (Murray & Farrington, 2008). Community incarceration rates are associated with negative sexual health outcomes in adolescents (Thomas & Torrone, 2006). Moreover, some studies (e.g. East, Khoo, &Reyes, 2006) highlight the salient role of parent and sibling relationships on young girls’ sexual behavior.
With such clear influence of close familial relationships on sexual health and apparent negative effects of parental incarceration, the question arises: Will the incarceration of a household member have a negative influence on adolescent sexual health? The current study takes this next step by examining sexual health outcomes of 3,312 girls from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth to learn whether the incarceration of a household member accounts for any variation in predicting teenage pregnancy, contraceptive use, number of sexual partners, and experience of intercourse at younger ages.
Our study has shown that ....
- Girls with an incarcerated household member have sex at younger ages (F(1, 2582)= 25.37, p< 0.001, R2= 0.11).
- Girls with an incarcerated household member are less likely to use contraceptives (X2(1, 11494)= 20.13, p< 0.001, OR= 0.628).
- Girls with an incarcerated household member have more sexual partners (F(1, 2395)= 6.025, p= 0.014, R2= 0.004).
- Girls with an incarcerated household member are more likely to become pregnant before age 20 (X2(1, 11494)= 101.19, p< 0.001, OR= 2.685).
Upcoming Studies with Children of Incarcerated Parents
Several project currently underway utilize data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to investigate the relationship between parental incarceration and internalizing problems in adolescence and to examine potential protective factors that promote positive youth development.