Mass Incarceration Of Parents Affects Kids’ Health Into Adulthood


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You’ve probably heard this many times before: The U.S. locks people up at a higher rate than any other country in the world. But did you know that more than half of those behind bars are parents to minors? In other words, more than five million children in the U.S. have had a parent who cared for them go to jail or prison. And these kids can carry significant scars with them into adulthood.

“Children serve time, too, you know. So when their parents are incarcerated, the parents aren’t the only one who are feeling that effect. It has a ripple effect for their families. Their kids are feeling that, and not only in the time that they’re incarcerated, but for generations,” Doctor Nia Heard-Garris said.

She just published a study describing what these scars may look like. She and her colleagues analyzed national survey data from over 13,000 young adults. Ten percent had a parent incarcerated during their childhood. And compared to their peers, they grew up more likely to forego necessary medical care, use drugs and engage in risky sexual behaviors.

“If you go from having a mother and a father working to just one [working parent], then all of a sudden you’ve got a financial strain, and that could plummet a family into poverty. And poverty in and of itself can be a huge barrier to seeking health care and to maintaining good health long-term,” Heard-Garris said.

“There’s a lot of stigma and shame around incarceration. So that may lead parents to not open up and say, ‘My husband was incarcerated, [or] my boyfriend was incarcerated, [or] my father was incarcerated,’ to really seek the support they need. Because that’s sometimes looked down upon, like, ‘Why were …read more

Source:: Newsy Headlines

      

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