The rate of social crimes and vices has increased in the United States, with the perpetrators ending up in jails. Many individuals have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, either intentionally or accidentally, but then justice has to be served regardless. Those who are found guilty of an offence are served with jail terms that separate them from their families and freedom. Some of the incarcerated individuals are parents to children ranging in different ages. The incarceration of a parent means that the children have to cope with life without either of the parents or even without both in the case where both are incarcerated. Parental guidance is key in the upbringing and mentoring of the child; thus, lack of the same means that the children are to grow lacking the crucial life fundamentals. Family, an agent of socialization, is expected to determine how the young ones transition from childhood to adulthood. Lack of one parent or both means that the particular family unit is incomplete; hence, the children will lack a few basic teachings. In this study, we are going to look at various impacts of parental incarceration on children based on the different aspects of incarceration.
The topic of parental incarceration attracts a wide range of views since different people are jailed or imprisoned due to different offences. A wide range of office could lead one into incarceration, starting from petty offences to offences that carry much weight, such as murder and drug trafficking. The duration of incarceration also differs from one person to the other. Essentially, the whole idea of incarceration inflicts different magnitude of impacts from one family to the other. Since the main focus is on the children, let us have a look at some of the unseen impacts of parental incarceration.
Mental Issue As A Result Of Lack of Bread Winner
The parent is always the breadwinner and the caregiver of the children in a family. Assuming that the parent is incarcerated when the children are below ten years old means the children are going to be left in the agony of fending for themselves. Where does a 10-year-old or less get to food all by themselves? The answer is nowhere. This means that the children will result in a difficult life of begging or depending on their relatives to survive (Barrett, 189). Having been used to their parents’ way of providence, the children are mostly likely to be under emotional stress as they try to figure out why things had to turn out in that manner. Emotional stress is always the starting point towards depression and withdrawal. Remember that no one is incarcerated for having done something good but rather for being on the wrong side. For this reason, it is common for the community to sideline the children as they perceive them as being a bad line of offspring. The isolation thing sends the children into a complete state of disapproval; thus, they end up having no one by their side.
A look at a child separated from the mother at a tender age will definitely tell one that parental presence is key to the child’s social, emotional, and psychological wellness. A breastfeeding child who has been separated from the mother will go lacking the motherly love bond and care. The kids are likely to grow under harsh conditions that even rush them to early maturity since there is no tenderness shown towards them. The same children are prone to bipolar disorder due to the bitterness they grow up in. The kids have anger issues as they feel that the world has already burdened them with more they can bear (Barrett, 200). The bipolar issue impacts their social life to great ends that they always tend to keep to themselves and never want to be in group. The issue has been on the leading aspects of why most kids tend to be rebellious in school. They assume that they are on their own and, therefore, no one should dare invade their space. At times, a visit to the jails or prison does not even bring closure as some of the parents’ remorse translates to the children hating on the people who could have conducted their arrest. It is an extremely tough situation for the children as they struggle to come to terms with the fate of their life.
Lack of a parent to provide to the children translate to the children having to take up duties and responsibilities of a parent. Parenthood is not an easy task even for the mature; you can now imagine the type of lifestyle led by a young person trying to feed the siblings. It is one of the most devastating conditions, and it does drain not only emotional but also physically. During this period, the kids feel overwhelmed and can easily result in making the wrong decision in the hope of making heads meet (Reed, 166). Some of the risks that lay in the life of these young ones are early marriages and drug use as they try to dodge the reality. The young girls run into early marriage in pursuit of someone who can support them, while the boy child could resort to the use of drugs to try and calm their nerves. Most of these decision lead to tragic results, and they end up not being the alternative ways they thought but nightmares for the children. The young girls experience early pregnancy issues while the boy child’s errand behaviors easily lead them to take the wrong paths that could land them into big troubles just like their parents.
Lack of Education
Not a single person is proud of associating with the children of the incarcerated persons. For this reason, barely does anyone come to the aid of these kids when it comes to basic and secondary needs providence. Having no parent means that the children are not going to be in a position to go on with their education as school fees might prove a big hurdle to solve. Even in the case where the fee is available, other factors such as hunger and discrimination will always negatively impact the children’s educational progress. For instance, the child school fee is paid, but the kids have nothing to put under their stomachs. It is oblivious that such a kid is going to skip school to go look for food. Discrimination from other children in school also pushes the kids to drop out. Staff and other kids aware of the children’s situation at times tend to react to look down upon the young ones on intimidating them. The children are live in a state of panic; hence a little provocation could see them down their tools on education.
Drug and Substance Use
A minor depends on the parent to give them guidelines on tackling and handling life. Life is a very complicated phenomenon that can easily throw one into tantrums if one is not careful. Lack of parental care leaves the children at the mercy of the world, and as it has often been said, life is the best teacher. With the little the parents leave behind, these children find it hard to survive, having not known how to survive on the little present (Shlafer, 366). Due to pressure, some of the children resort to reckless street life with the hope of finding solace in the situation. The streets are tough and filled with all sorts of vices. Most of these children find themselves in the raging mouths of drug abuse and prostitution. Soon or later, the same children are engaging in drug abuse as they have no one to control them or show them the way. Prostitution becomes the order of the day as they try to earn the little cash that can sustain their daily life. The drug abuse life is detrimental as it is one of the aspects that kills their future rendering them useless to the community. Prostitution leaves them damaged, and in the process, some of them contract sexually transmitted diseases that are the cause of their death.
The rate of social crimes and vices has increased in the United States, with the perpetrators ending up in jails. Many individuals have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, either intentionally or accidentally, but then justice has to be served regardless. Those who are found guilty of an offence are served with jail terms that separate them from their families and freedom. Some of the incarcerated individuals are parents to children ranging in different ages. The incarceration of a parent means that the children have to cope with life without either of the parents or even without both in the case where both are incarcerated (Turney, 22). The government has to maintain its stand against social injustice and crimes. Incarceration, one of the disciplinary methods, has to remain as it is, as the best way to serve criminals is to ensure justice is served. I may be concerned about how the children of the people in jail and prison are treated. If one has committed a crime that does not mean that their offspring has to be part of the issues. These are innocent kids that deserve a good life, just as any other kid out there. The government should come up with programs that focus on the welfare of the children whose parents are behind bars. The children should have a good support system that will take them through the process of accepting what has happened and showing them how to go about life. They should also be supported through their school and every other aspect to make them feel accepted by society despite their parent’s shortcomings. By so doing, we are going to have a healthy, complete society where each and everyone feel appreciated.
Barrett, Idonia K. The Lived Experiences of Grandparents as Primary Caregivers for Children of Incarcerated Parents. Diss. Walden University, 2021.
Hairston, Creasie Finney. “Focus on children with incarcerated parents: An overview of the research literature.” (2007).
Reed, Diane F., and Edward L. Reed. “Children of incarcerated parents.” Social Justice 24.3 (69 (1997): 152-169.
Shlafer, Rebecca, et al. “Children with incarcerated parents-considering children’s outcomes in the context of family experiences.” (2013).
Turney, Kristin. “Understanding the Needs of Children with Incarcerated Parents: What Educators Should Know.” American Educator 43.2 (2019): 22.