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The rate of women imprisonment has risen dramatically over the years. According to Covington and Bloom (2003, p. 1), more than 600,000 women were incarcerated in 1990 alone. Covington and Bloom (2003, p. 1) continues that this number grew to almost a million in 2000. A significant number of the imprisoned women is mostly mothers. As such, the families of the incarcerated mothers suffer a great deal.

However, Woodard and Copp (2016) observe that it is regrettable that a considerable inquiry on the effect of mother’s imprisonment, particularly on children’s wellbeing, is insufficient. The major setback on this area of study is detaching the impacts of the father’s incarceration. This is because initially, more fathers were being incarcerated as compared to mothers (Woodard & Copp, 2016). Another issue that arises is entangling the impact of mother’s incarceration from the effects of other existential factors before incarceration, such as domestic violence, parental use of drugs, parental mental state, among other factors (Sparks, 2015). Most researchers fail to account for background factors leading to imprisonment, thus the methodological flaws.

Children whose mothers are arrested and incarcerated face unique problems. The problem is compounded by the fact that most people would never think of a possible way to shape the personality of these children. As much as most kids will not show how affected they are, most of them experience trauma due to the sudden separation (Sparks, 2015). These children suffer psychological issues such as anxiety, anger, depression, and in other cases guilt. Feldman, Weller, Leckman, Kuint, and Eidelman (1999) write that the most evident behavioral consequences are delinquency, emotional withdrawal for most children, and failure in school for school going kids. Other profound behavioral manifestations include low self-esteem, truancy, aggression and use of drugs and alcohol.

Although incarceration of any parent, both the father and the mother have a significant impact, the impact of a mother’s incarceration is more often disruptive. This is mainly because, in most family settings, a mother is mostly the sole caregiver (Harris & Graham, 2010). In this situations, the children who are left behind are forced to live with other relatives or grandparents, and in worst case scenarios, they hop from one foster home to the next (Harris & Graham, 2010).

Feldman et al. (1999) confirm that the single most devastating fact about incarceration is that children rarely get in touch with their mothers. In such cases, most mothers in prison are seldom visited by their children. The children thus develop social distance as compared to those of their age. Despite this knowledge, there is a consensus that these kids are not only affected by factors evolving from incarceration but also from long existing circumstances (Feldman et al., 1999). [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

However, this paper mainly examines the effects that arise from incarceration. According to Glaze and Maruschak (2008, p. 5), approximately a half of mother’s state prisoners participated in the daily care of their children as well as financial support before confinement.

Problem Statement
Incarceration is a dynamic process that takes time. Mumola (2000, p. 7) observes that mothers are incarcerated for 49 months and 66 months in state and federal prison respectively. This period serves as a difficult time mostly for schoolgoing children. The purpose of this study is to review the impact of incarceration and socialization of schoolgoing children whose mothers have been incarcerated. In addition to understanding the effects of incarceration on children, school officials should take the initiative of programs related to support services practically available for the affected families.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Thesis Statement
Children whose parents, and mostly the mother figure is incarcerated, are shunned by other kids and some adults. The stigma that comes with it may lead to an exhibition of aggressive behavior and sometimes depression (Harris & Graham, 2010). It is thus imperative to understand the effects on children who are going through this experience. In order to cope with this situation, it is inevitable for the family, schools, and community to join hands and help as much as they can before they lose children to delinquency due to the mistakes of their parents. Therefore, the research hypothesis for this study is that children with incarcerated mothers will most likely fall short in terms of social behavior such as social withdrawal, low self-esteem, aggression, poor grades in school, poor coping, and social skills.

Purpose of the Study

The study will focus on the following objectives:

  1. To identify the effects of mother’s incarceration on their children’s education
  2. To determine the impact of mother’s imprisonment on their children’s behavior as well as identifying ways to support this group of people.
  3. To identify the psychological and educational solutions to incarceration for schoolgoing children.

The educational discipline is favored in this study since education is a major part of a growing child. One of the many factors that are affected when children lose their mother for some time or indefinitely is their ability to grasp concepts. The self-pity and depression largely affect education (Woodard & Copp, 2016). When mothers are incarcerated, most children might find themselves ignoring education due to different difficulties.

Similarly, psychology is a fascinating discipline since it examines the behavioral modifications of a child as they grow in the absence of their mother. The psychological aspect is a result of change. This study will thus address both psychological and educational recommendations for future use.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]


Literature Review
According to Solinger (2007), “recent studies estimate maternal incarcerations today to be at least eight times the number in the 1980’s” (as cited in Berg, 2011, p. 13). In light of this, the revelation is further compounded by the fact that 70% of the imprisoned women are mothers of children between the ages of 1-18 years old (Greenfield & Snell, 1999, as cited in Berg, 2011, p. 13).  Furthermore, 65% of the incarcerated mothers clearly stated that they had been living with their children before their arrest as compared to 47% of fathers (Schafer & Dellinger, 1999, as cited in Berg, 2011, p. 14). These findings are further cemented by a study by Berry and Dellinger (2003), who found that only 25% of the respondents of the survey mentioned that their children lived with relatives or the other partner as compared to a staggering 90% of fathers (as cited in Berg, 2011, p. 14). These results are indicative of the stress levels of mothers when incarcerated. They aid in understanding research findings related to women’s experiences behind bars. No matter their crime, women are bound to suffer from adjustment issues as compared to their male counterparts. Psychologically, these may render women restless, and hence depression may set in (Chandler, 2015).

Researchers have utilized different studies to discern the degree to which parental incarceration affects children. Literatures on the impact of incarceration suggest that parental incarceration leads up to negative outcomes on children’s psychological health, developmental health, as well as education (Arrigo & Shipley, 2004).

Development of delinquent behavior in children with incarcerated parents is rampant. Children with incarcerated parents are likely to be incarcerated as well. Arrigo and Shipley (2004) observe that about half of the incarcerated juveniles in the US consists of incarcerated parent in the past or their current lives.

Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to ignore studies or perform poorly in school as compared to their peers whose parents are not incarcerated. Fejes and Miller (2002) write that children of incarcerated mothers face a lot of instability hence dropping out of high school. High school dropout leads to a series of delinquent behavior such as engaging in drugs and unemployment as compared to peers.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

In sum, the imprisonment of mothers has a direct effect on the development of their children. With studies indicating that children are hardly able to visit their mothers in prison, the result of this isolation is resounding. Similarly, such children are more likely to be imprisoned during their development, as a result of psychological and sociological aspects that affects their behaviors.

Arrigo, B. A., & Shipley, S. L. (2004). Introduction to forensic psychology (2nd ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

Berg, J. (2011). Critical review of literature: Children of incarcerated parents (Master’s Thesis). University of Wisconsin–Stout, Menomonie.

Chandler, M. A. (2015, November 13). How do parents in prison affect children in schoolThe Washington Post.

Covington, S. S., & Bloom, B. E. (2003). Gendered justice: Women in the criminal justice system. In B. Bloom (Ed.), Gendered justice: Addressing female offenders (pp. 1-20). Durham, NC: Carolina Academic.

Fejes, K. E., & Miller, D. (2002). Assessing gender-specific programming for juvenile female offenders: Creating ownership, voice, and growth. Journal of Correctional Education53(2), 58-64.

Feldman, R., Weller, A., Leckman, J. F, Kuint, J., & Eidelman, A. I. (1999). The nature of the mother’s tie to her infant: Maternal bonding under conditions of proximity, separation, and potential loss. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry40(6), 929-939.

Glaze, L. E., & Maruschak, L. M. (2008). Parents in prison and their minor children. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Harris, Y. R., & Graham, J. A. (2010). Children of incarcerated parents: Theoretical developmental and clinical issues. D. R. Carpenter et al. (Eds). New York, NY: Springer.

Mumola, C. (2000). Incarcerated parents and their children. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Sparks, S. D. (2015). Parents’ incarceration takes toll on children, studies say. Education Week, pp. 1-18.

Woodard, T., & Copp, J. E. (2016). Maternal incarceration and children’s delinquent involvement: The role of sibling relationships. Children and Youth Services Review70, 340-348.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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