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  1. Children with Incarcerated Parents    





Subject Law and governance Pages 11 Style APA


Social Justice Issues and Dilemmas Faced by Those Interacting with the Criminal Justice System


In the recent past, many children have had experience with the incarceration of their parents. The number of incarcerated parents has been on the rise; therefore, it has a social implication to children as it greatly influences the child’s wellbeing and general growth. According to statistics, about 2.6 million children in the United States currently have a parent under incarceration and regarding children at the age of 14, about one in 14 children in the United States experiences a resident parent leaving for jail or prison. Parental incarceration comes with a lot of detrimental implications on the well-being of a child. The effects of such implications greatly affect the children in their early stages of growth. Children whose parents have been imprisoned face a lot of risks such as health problems, academic problems, and social stigmatization. There has been a missing link on children with incarcerated parents. Therefore, this paper tries to build up the challenges children with imprisoned parents within the global context, coping strategies that children with incarcerated parents use, and support mechanisms used to help imprisoned parents. Some of the coping mechanisms such children use include keeping distance from their parents who are imprisoned, using distraction as a way of normalizing their parent’s situations, and using therapy. Therefore, parental incarceration is a topic that is relevant socially as it has substantial implications for the well-being of children.   






Social Justice Issues and Dilemmas Faced by Those Interacting with the Criminal Justice System

There has been an increasing number of parents in prison and this has resulted in increased concern about the public health of children left behind. Children have to develop coping mechanisms to sustain their survival in society. However, such children face numerous risks such as insecurity brought about by their new living conditions, stigmatization at school, and increased poverty levels due to lack of income as their parents are in prison (Thulstrup & Karlsson, 2017). Children with imprisoned parents develop stigma due to social exclusion from society. Taking into account the recent statistics, about 800,000 children had experience with parental incarceration in 2013. Therefore, this paper seeks to establish the various social justice issues and dilemmas faced by those interacting with the criminal justice system and coping mechanisms of affected children and families with incarcerated parents.

Please correct all highlighted areas. Direct quotes must be cited with page numbers.

Also, if you can enhance the comparison and contrasting aspect, it would be good since it is still very much wanting. This would need using appropriate comparison language, and having an accurate purpose of the paper.

E.G: The goal of this paper is to compare and contrast finding of various studies on social justice issues and dilemmas faced by children with incarcerated parents.

A number of scholars agree on the negative impacts of parental incarceration on the children’s academic performance. For instance, according to yyyy (2021), children with incarcerated parents are likely to miss out on college admission. Xxx (2020) also contends that academic life is the most impacted in children with incarcerated parents.

As you can see, the comparison between of studies is all so clear. Please try work out on the comparison and contrast bit at least so it features well….

Review in already edited copy


Challenges Faced by Children with Incarcerated Parents

Children with incarcerated parents experience a lot of adversities more often. Some of these adversities are marriage dissolution, abuse of substances by parents, residential instability, and homelessness (Tynan & Turney, 2020). Delinquencies and behavioral problems are some of the outcomes seen in children with incarcerated parents. For instance, children whose parents have been incarcerated at the age of 3-5 years old are likely to develop attention problems and aggression when they reach the age of 10. By the time such children reach middle childhood, they are likely to develop antisocial problems.

Furthermore, there is a likelihood for the development of multiple risk factors such as an increase in risk for maladjustment and future involvement in the justice system. According to Hindt et al. (2016), the experience of children is directly related to their parent’s incarceration such as witnessing their parents getting arrested, separation from their siblings, and changing environments such as relocating from one school to another. Such occurrences project both internalization and externalization problems faced by children who are victims of parental incarceration. “Parental separation because of incarceration during the first 10 years of the child’s life predicted antisocial temperament and illegal misconduct during adolescence and adulthood” (Hindt et al., 2016). Children whose parents have been imprisoned tend to have poor performance due to the economic hardship, unstable caregivers, and the stress resulting from their parent’s imprisonment.

However, Tynan and Turney (2020) develop a contradictory point of view of the performance of children with imprisoned parents. In their study, they state that there is no existing relationship between boys’ academic performance and parental incarceration.

Sykes and Pettit (2015) state that parental incarceration results in the deprivation of household members from essential resources and this strain results in children involving themselves in crimes and delinquencies. Children from incarcerated parents are faced with adverse socioemotional conditions which further accumulates in their formative years, hence stretching them to their family disadvantage, hence delinquencies serve as a transitional situation resulting from a continuous stressful life condition. There exists educational inequality between children experiencing parental incarceration and those that do not. Children with imprisoned parents are always associated with poverty and working poor households. Sykes and Pettit (2015) further state that “overall, children who have had a parent incarcerated are twice as likely to live in poverty compared to children who have not experienced parental incarceration.”

Moreover, there exists a piece of substantial evidence that parental monitoring and support and supervision will help to protect children at their adolescent stage from delinquencies. Taking into consideration of criminology theories, lack of such parental behaviors is considered to create more chances for adolescent children to involve themselves in deliquescent behaviors (Veen et al., 2011). Juvenile delinquencies occur as a result of lack of enough parental monitoring and lack of discipline. Children with incarcerated parents lack parental guidance and support and due to increased poverty levels, such children engage themselves in criminal activities. A study conducted on the patterns of mother-son relationship characteristics within a population of incarcerated and non-incarcerated adolescents in the Netherlands showed that “the patterns of mother-son relationship characteristics in families of incarcerated adolescents will more often be characterized by low levels of material monitoring and maternal affection… compared to non-incarcerated adolescents.” (Veen et al., 2011 p. 3).

 According to recent research works, children whose parents have been imprisoned often do have a higher chance of incarceration in the future. Within the criminal justice system, the rights of children whose parents have been imprisoned are not clear. Such children are at a higher risk of being left behind due to lack of social welfare services, laws and policies deficiency, and lack of enough protection for those living in prison with their children (Thulstrup & Karlsson, 2017). One challenge that such children go through is stigmatization from parental imprisonment.

There exist some countries that have a comprehensive penile system and way of administering justice. Such countries give low penalties, have a well-built penal regime, and an unprejudiced attitude of the public. Thulstrup and Karlsson (2017) give out an example of Sweden and the United Kingdom. They state that “children from Sweden can better handle the situation of a stigma than the UK, mainly because of the welfare state system, better penal system rules and the very open and tolerant attitude in general society” (p.2).

Parental imprisonment has adverse effects on children, especially on paternal or maternal imprisonment. Maternal imprisonment is associated with the disruption of the relationship between a mother and her child. Besides that, maternal imprisonment has negative effects on both the social, emotional, and physical well-being of the child. Children are likely to be affected by the movements from their homes and unstable caregivers.  Thulstrup and Karlsson (2017) agree with this statement as he also says that parental imprisonment has both practical, economic, and social effects on children, and movement from their homes and unstable caregivers make it worse. Paternal imprisonment affects children emotionally. Some of the problems associated with paternal imprisonment are anxiety, aggression, anger, and a deep feeling of loss. “the average number of health services utilized by children with an incarcerated parent is slightly greater than and significantly different from the average for youth without a parent entangled in the criminal justice system” (Sykes & Pettit, 2015). This can be used to explain the increase in mental illness that such children undergo.

The reaction of children is different concerning parental imprisonment. ??????

Boys whose parents have been imprisoned are likely to develop antisocial behaviors compared to boys whose parents have not been imprisoned. Boys tend to express their feelings on parental imprisonment in an externalized manner hence resulting in deviated behavioral problems and aggression problems while girls tend to deal with parental imprisonment in an internalized manner (Thuistrup & Karlsson, 2017).

The experience among children on parental incarceration is different. Furthermore, children of color and children from low-income families are exposed in a very different way. Boys have a higher chance of developing childhood behavior problems as a result of paternal incarceration as compared to girls. Paternal incarceration’s impact on younger children who stayed with their father before incarceration than on children who never live with their parents.

Coping Mechanisms

Both boys and girls have a difference in their coping mechanisms and this greatly depends on the age group of children. Children who are at pre-school tend to get help primarily from their caregivers. They tend to have an immediate reaction to anger and a situation that seems to be difficult. They do engage in distracting activities or disengage themselves from some situations. Children going to school tend to use coping mechanisms which are more cognitive, problem-solving mechanisms, and distractions. Such children tend to seek support compared to those who are pre-schooling.

Both hindnt et al. (2016) and Thuistrup and Karlsson (2017) agree that children in school tend to think positively and have a future-focused way of thinking and behavior, hence reducing the effects associated with their parents being in prison. They further agree that children use a combination of strategies to help them cope with the situation. Some of the strategies were participating in sports, spending time with friends, and involving themselves in social activities.  Some countries have coping projects which were formed from the public’s need for policies and interventions for children whose parents have been imprisoned. The project is geared towards analyzing the mental health, chances of occurrence of stigma, social exclusions, well-being, and children’s resilience. Some children talk to others as a way of coping with the fact that their parents are in prison. Therefore, schools should be able to layout key emotional and teacher-education support for children with parents in prison.

Children with an incarcerated parent do involve themselves in social programs than those who have not had a parent incarcerated. Sykes and Pettit (2015) state that “overall, minors who have had a parent behind bars have program enrollment levels twice those of children with never-incarcerated parents” ( p.123). despite the adverse effects children with incarcerated parents face, such children have shown high levels of resilience in the face of adverse situations. Some children receive support from their extended families hence has led to a positive developmental and psychological wellbeing. The supportive family has been associated with increased levels of resilience (Hindt et al., 2016).  

Furthermore, children with incarcerated parents and have a good relationship with their respective caregivers tend to have good behaviors as the caregivers offer monitoring and discipline to them. For instance, caregivers who receive children with incarcerated parents with a lot of warmth and acceptance have been seen to have a direct relationship with reduced or a few behavioral problems. According to Hindt et al. (2016), the existence of a positive relationship between children with incarcerated families and their extended families and caregivers tends to act as a protective factor to enable such children to have a positive adjustment.

Emotional recognition skills act as a protective factor from mental illness as interaction with family members helps to develop such skills. Emotional recognition skills directly relate to behavioral regulation and improved social interaction and functioning. The ability of such children to develop and realize their emotional skills is key in achieving emotional competence hence improving the ability of affected children to interact with the environment and face social problems more positively. The emotional recognition of a child is fostered through interactions between the child by his or her family. Parental expressiveness positively influences the emotional schemas of a child and with the non-existence of a parent from a family through incarceration a child might be deprived of opportunities of exposure to parental expressiveness hence they might feel less emotionally supported (Hindt et al., 2016).

From my observation, children having parental incarceration are faced with a lot of challenges. Most of these challenges affect their mental well-being hence making them emotionally unstable. Children whose parents have been incarcerated are highly exposed to risks such as increased antisocial behaviors and depression. Some effects translate to psychological problems and involvement in criminal activities.   The parent who lived with their children provided both financial and social support, created a concrete parent-child relationship, the long-term adverse effects of parent incarceration can be eased by the child receiving support throughout their parent’s incarceration process and such children should be allowed to make contact with their parents more often.

Moreover, child support and child welfare practitioners should be involved to take care of the child early enough before the correctional system is involved with the parent. A streamlined communication should be developed between government agencies to help in maximizing the potentials of providing the child with the necessary support. Parental incarceration adds a lot of burden to vulnerable families as it reduces the stability of the household, there are high risks of children left behind being homeless and increased dependence on the assistance of the public.


In summary, parental incarceration has a negative association with the child’s well-being. Children with incarcerated parents experience poor mental health, poor academic performances, and less optimal behaviors. Children who are exposed to parental incarceration have a higher chance of involving themselves in criminal activities due to increased poverty levels and lack of enough support and guidance.  Furthermore, children whose parent has been incarcerated are likely to undergo incarceration too due to the economic hardships such children do undergo. Boys and girls are influenced by parental incarceration differently. Boys tend to deal with parental incarceration externally while girls tend to deal with the situation internally.

 Children who obtained support from schools, talked to professionals, group sessions or those who engaged themselves in mentoring programs and social services developed emotional skills and behavioral regulation to deal with the situation hence behaved morally. Children who engaged themselves in mentoring programs had positive outcomes in the well-being of such children. The criminal justice system in collaboration with child support services has developed a system of monitoring and supporting children of imprisoned parents.

Children with incarcerated parents having a good relationship with their relatives and caregivers are likely to develop good and moral behaviors due to continuous monitoring and disciplinary actions are taken on them.


Heinecke Thulstrup, S., & Eklund Karlsson, L. (2017). Children of imprisoned parents and their coping strategies: A systematic review. Societies7(2), 15. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/7/2/15.

Hindt, L. A., Davis, L., Schubert, E. C., Poehlmann-Tynan, J., & Shlafer, R. J. (2016). Comparing emotion recognition skills among children with and without jailed parents. Frontiers in psychology7, 1095. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01095/full.

Poehlmann‐Tynan, J., & Turney, K. (2021). A Developmental Perspective on Children With Incarcerated Parents. Child Development Perspectives15(1), 3-11. Retrieved from https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/cdep.12392.

Sykes, B. L., & Pettit, B. (2015). Severe deprivation and system inclusion among children of incarcerated parents in the United States after the Great Recession. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences1(2), 108-132. Retrieved from https://www.rsfjournal.org/content/rsfjss/1/2/108.full.pdf.

Veen, V. C., Stevens, G. W., Doreleijers, T. A., Deković, M., Pels, T., & Vollebergh, W. A. (2011). Ethnic differences in the mother-son relationship of incarcerated and non-incarcerated male adolescents in the Netherlands. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health5(1), 1-10. Retrieved from https://capmh.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1753-2000-5-23.




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