KIDS WITH PARENTS IN JAIL
With over 2.4 million people in prison in the United States, we need to start asking, "What about the kids who have parents in jail".
Incarcerated parents is not a subject that comes up in many social circles. Sure, there are those occasional local news flashes that show a father or mother going to prison, and the saying "don't do the crime if you can't do the time" swirls through our brain. But, what about the kids?
What happens to them? Where do they go? Do they know why their parent(s) are taken from them? Do they suffer psychological repercussions from their parent's absence? How do they feel when they are shuffled off to live with a relative, put into a state facility, or assigned to a foster home? How do they cope with losing a parent? Can they visit their parent(s)? Can they write to them? Do their parents write back to them? How does parent and child stayed connected? Should they stay connected? How can you encourage a child to talk about their feelings? And, what can we all do to help them cope?
These are all questions I intend to cover in my new "Kids With Parents In Jail" series. For the next six weeks, my blog will discuss the problems children face when their parent(s) are incarcerated. In the mean time, here is some food for thought from The Sentencing Project:
- In 2007, there were an estimated 1.7 million kids with a parent in prison
- From 1991-2007, there was an 80% increase in the number of children with a parent in prison
- 59% of parents in state prisons and 45% in federal prisons have not had personal visits with their children since their incarceration.
Finally, if you want to read about one kid's experiences or motives for becoming a bully as a result of her parents incarceration, check out Mikki Sadil's new book Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters. Both of the parents of the antagonist, Celine Carroll, are in prison. As a result, she is seeking to ruin the life of the man's daughter who put them in jail. After reading the book, I believe any child who has a parent in jail could become a "Celine" if we fail acknowledge the problems he/she faces.
Children should never pay for their parents' crimes.