ERIC Number: ED235439
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Mar-17
The Forgotten Sufferers: Children of Inmates.
Hopper, Columbus B.; McCance, Kathleen
An often overlooked problem in corrections is the way children are influenced by their parents' incarceration. Although in the past prisons were more tolerant of parent-child relationships, since the 1970's until recently, the prevailing philosophy has been to keep children separated from their incarcerated parents. Because of the shift from extended to nuclear family structures, which reduces opportunities for child care continuity, such separations pose many problems. Frequently, the incarcerated parent is the family's primary bread winner, and the family may suffer financial hardship, as well as loss of emotional support. The stigma attached to imprisonment means that the loss of the incarcerated parent elicits little sympathy and does not draw family members closer together. Further, children are affected by the stigma whether or not their parents tell them the truth about the imprisonment. Children are often reluctant to discuss the incarcerated parent's whereabouts with anyone, leading to isolation from peers. Regardless of the sex of the incarcerated parent, inmates report behavior problems in their children. While privileges vary widely from one institution to another, a few innovative programs are being initiated, generally focusing on mother-child relations. These programs may help eradicate the negative effects of parental imprisonment. (WAS)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Social Science Association (Houston, TX, March 14-17, 1983).