Millions of American children have a parent in prison, and it causes the youngsters a variety of problems, a new report states.
About 2.7 million children, or one in 14, have at least one parent behind bars, according to Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children?, a report by Child Trends, a national research organization based in Bethesda, Md.
“Most research finds negative outcomes for these children, such as childhood health and behavioral problems and grade retention,” according to David Murphey, report co-author and senior research scientist at Child Trends.
“Children who grow up with a parent in prison are more likely to suffer from poor mental and physical health in adulthood,” he said.
The statistics become even worse for impoverished or Black children. One in eight poor children has an incarcerated parent, and one in nine Black children has at least one parent in prison.
The problem is getting worse, according to the report. Ten years ago, 60,000 children in America had an incarcerated parent. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 2.7 million children due to the increase in the rate of incarcerated women, the report stated.
The children who have a parent behind bars often experience shame, depression and an increased likelihood that they themselves will have negative encounters with the law, according to Hope for Miami, an organization that advocates for the children of incarcerated parents.
The information contained in this report came from data compiled by the U.S. Department of Health. The data was collected between February 2011 and June 2012 during a telephone survey that included 95,677 interviews.