An incarcerated parent has many negative effects on their children. Such affects can be residential instability, economic and behavioral problems. All of these factors affect the child’s education. Due to the lost of a parent to incarceration the child can be affected physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. These factors contribute to the way a child performs academically. These problems affect the way a child may think and their ability to learn. It is during the years of a normal child’s development. The incarceration of a parent has a negative impact on the well-being of a child’s education.
“In particular, arrest and incarceration have a negative effect on the health and welfare of a child’. (Sack and Seidler, 1978). When a parent is incarcerated, it is as significant and traumatic to a child as when a parent dies. There is a difference between the two. With death the child may gain sympathy from others, giving room for discussions in understanding the role of death. With incarceration comes stigma. There may not be any open discussions to help the child to understand. This creates coping problems for the child. “Moreover, children may become more susceptive to the antisocial of peers’. (Hagman and Dinovitzer,1999).
“One of the most important factors in the development of a child is a strong attachment or bond to a caregiver during infancy”. (The Yale Law Journal, 1978). This guides the child’s engagement in, interpretation of, and interactions with others. The bond helps the child to be able to relate to other people. When the bond is broken it disrupts a child’s emotional development and ultimately causing socialization problems. The child may also develop feelings of shame, anger and rejection. A stigma that can impact their emotional reactions to traumatic life events. During early childhood years (2-6 years), children have not yet developed the skills to understand traumatic events. In the middle childhood years (7-10 years), separation from a parent creates a sense of loss. It is during these years that the children are developing their social skills and independence.
When a parent is incarcerated, it has lasting social, emotional, and developmental impacts that manifests in economic difficulty, socialization, attachment issues, stigmatization and traumatic stress. It is a process that unfolds over time. Providing children with information concerning the arrest and reasons for their parent’s incarceration can be a problematic factor as well. (Ayers, Sandler,West, & Roosa, 1996; Compas 1987) suggests that “uncertainty and lack of information undermines children’s ability to cope, it is not surprising that children who are uniformed about their parents incarceration are more anxious and fearful”. Children are more likely to have negative reactions to the experience when they can’t talk about it. (Sack et al. 1976) reported that “over 50% of the children of incarcerated parents had school problems, such as poor grades or instances of aggression. (Sack et al. 1987) study, “16% exhibited transient school phobias and were unwilling to go to school for a 4-6 week period after their parents incarceration. In another report, (Stanton 1980) found even higher rates of school problems: 70% of 166 children of incarcerated mothers showed poor academic performance and 5% exhibited classroom behavior problems. Another school- based problem is that children are often teased or ostracized by their peers as a result of their parent’s incarceration. (Jose-Kampfner,1991) as children reach adolescence, suspension and dropout rates are even higher.