This research paper will include spiritual, emotional, social, and physical issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, financial issues, academic issues, and stigmatization that is placed on children that have incarcerated parents. The research paper will also include some statistics, rights, needs, mentor help, and outreaches for the children with incarcerated parents.
The paper will answer the following questions: What are the issues and effects that children face with incarcerated parent? How can people stop stigmatizing and start making a difference in the children’s lives? What is the percentage rate of the children being incarcerated like their parents as they grow into adulthood? What is the Biblical answer on how the children should be treated and taught concerning their incarcerated parent?
This research paper will look into the deep needs of the children and explain how everyone can reach out with the love of Christ to make a difference. The United States Of America has the maximum number Of incarcerated people in the world today. The statistics show that 1 in 100 adults, men and omen, in the United States alone are in jail or prison. These incarcerated parents leave behind in the very least amount, one young and minor child. With this amount of adult incarcerations being so high, there are approximately 1. million children being emotionally, physically, academically, and mentally effected by their parents being incarcerated for years on end (Poehlmann & Eddy, 2008). The children that are left behind and effected by their parent’s choices have a harder time breaking the generational curse that has been set before them and have a harder time following the right path for bright, healthy, and happy future. “But He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18).
Only with the proper guidance, help, understanding, education, encouragement, and relationships will these children endure and prosper in a healthy lifestyle as they grow into adulthood. One of the many issues that children of incarcerated parents face is the issue of being stigmatized by friends, peers, teachers, family members, church members, and society as a whole. The children are labeled because of heir parents choices and this labeling has a terrible effect on the children (Phillips & Gates, 2010).
The effects include not wanting to go to school in the fear of being made fun of, scared of the feeling of not belonging, and being viewed more different than other students. The stigmatization put on the children of incarcerated parents is detrimental in what leads the children into making wrong choices that would not otherwise be made. There are children that choose not to tell anyone about the incarcerated parent in hopes that no one will find out preventing them from the embarrassment of being made un of or having an underlying feeling of inferiority (Phillips & Gates, 2010).
The children that choose not to tell anyone about their incarcerated parent tend to be withdrawn and have low self-esteem which in turn does not help them from feeling better about the situation that has been forced upon them. Children have to learn how to look at the incarcerated parent as an ambiguous loss because there is not an explanation as to why the parent is gone or why they done what they done (Balswick & Balswick, 2014).
When the children learn to look at a parent as an unclear loss it causes confusion, nbearable, emotional pain, especially when the child knows that a parent is supposed to be a caregiver, there for them, trustworthy, and the most tremendous source of love of any other human. The emotional and physical pain that the absence of the incarcerated parent can cause are attachment issues in the child, anxiety attacks, and abandonment issues (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006). These problems can affect the children as they grow in to adulthood and begin to acquire relationships Of their own.
Another of the big issues that stigmatized children of incarcerated parents face is in academics and the school system (Vacca, 2009). The children tend to miss school due to moving around, changing from school to school, not having a safe, secure home, possible homelessness, not enough sleep, constant fighting, not enough food, lack of parental supervision, all of these and more contribute to the children’s low academics. These actions start taking place in children as young as the age of six and continue until the child has entered high school.
The chances of a teenager with an incarcerated parent finishing high school are very low and more times than not the teen will start acting out in ways that follow the actions of the incarcerated parent Nichols & Loper, 2012). The third of the many emotional and physical issues the children of incarcerated parents face is the issue of living in poverty. In the beginning the children may be used to both parents living in the home and both parents may work to bring home an income.
When something abruptly happens and a parent makes the choice to do something illegal and is incarcerated this causes the other parent to have to financially support the household alone. This not only causes terrible stress on the parent that is left behind to take care Of all the financial needs of the home, but it also caUses confusion and tress on the children because not only is one of their parents in jail or prison, now they have to learn a new lifestyle of having only one parent that supports them in every way possible.
The finances go from two-fold to barely anything with the worries sometimes put on the child of where there next meal is going to come from, where they are going to get school supplies, clothes, shoes, and worst case if they are going to have a roof over their head when they get home from school (Aaron & Dallaire, 2009). The worry the children of incarcerated parents face does not stop with inances and in some cases that is just the beginning.
Now having a broken family, disruption, and at times not having the basic needs of food, water, and shelter met due to lack of money that was once there causes kids to take the burden of the parents responsibility on themselves. The children end up in a whirl wind of confusion, deceit, and trouble that leads them to the destruction of juvenile delinquency at times. The children live in a world of emotional imbalance, unsettling circumstances, shame, and grief that is all unasked for, yet placed on them by circumstances (Thombre, 2009).
The urroundings are out of the children’s control and often times leave them feeling useless, bitter, empty, and angry. They see the struggle the other parent is going through and thinking they are going to help the parent is what often times leads them into more trouble and committing crimes that cannot be taken back. These crimes consist of stealing money, food, household items, clothes, selling drugs, and in the worst case they start using drugs and alcohol to cover up their feelings of anguish and embarrassment of their family life (Thombre, 2009).
This is how they fall into the trap Of the saying the apple does not fall far from the tree”. Without the proper guidance there are children that do repeat the incarcerated parent’s footsteps. Statistics say that out of 857 children 842 of them have committed delinquent acts such as robbing someone, stealing a car, or arson. All of the children had a family history of incarceration (Aaron & Dallaire, 2009). There is help and hope for the children of incarcerated parents. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40131 The parent that is not incarcerated can get financial help from the local social services. The help entails of food stamps, Medicaid, housing, daycare assistance, and in some circumstances the parent can get Tanf if eligible. The parent that is now responsible for the full care of the child will have a major decision to make whether to let their child continue communication with the other parent while incarcerated.
If the incarcerated parent continues communication with the child the communication alone could help the child keep their feelings of stability, attachment, and strong onds (Thombre, 2009). The communication could also keep the child from feeling abandoned and can teach the child the deep meaning of forgiveness. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Within the school systems the teachers, counselors, and principals, can make a difference by altering their attitudes toward the students of incarcerated parents. The adult role models in the school systems with their changed attitudes would portray to all the other tudents that just because the parent of another student is in jail or prison does not make that student any different. Schools have the ability to communicate with the community on building mentorship programs for the children of incarcerated parents (Vacca, 2009).
This alone would open a window of hope for the children, bring them closer together with a unity of others that they can relate to on common ground and with familiarity. The school system and churches have the ability to hold student support groups for the children of incarcerated parents. These groups would help the tudents, parents, guardians, and peers learn appropriate coping mechanisms, how to deal with shame, anger, guilt and embarrassment.
Parents, schools, communities, and churches have to reach out to the children of incarcerated parents to let them know that it is okay for them to talk about their situation and to know that they are not alone. With guidance and encouragement of the right people the children of incarcerated parents can do anyth ing they set their minds too, including making a difference to others that are going through the same thing. The children of incarcerated arents have rights and throughout the entirety of their parent being in prison these rights should be met with the upmost respect and dignity by the adult figures in their lives.