Sometimes, when people go to prison, they are not the only ones who serve a sentence. Their children are serving their parents’ sentence too, and in a worse way.
Child Trends, a national research organization based in Bethesda, MD, released a 20-page report on parental incarceration. Titled “Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children?,” the report examines the statistics of how many children have parents in prison.
The numerical results of the report revealed that one in 14 children have at least one parent behind bars in the United States. Other statistics revealed 1 in every 8 poor children and 1 in every 9 black children have at least one incarcerated parent.
The report also examined the effects these numbers have on the children alone. It can have negative consequences on a child’s mental health, social behavior, financial stability and educational future.
This report definitely exposes a critical problem. The conditions through which kids and young adults are going through are horrifying, and the means the government is providing are not good enough.
It is extremely important to identify the difference between what many might think the problem is, and what the real issue is. The problem is not that too many people are being sent to prison. The problem does not lie in the high numbers plainly, it lies in what these numbers represent.
I find myself seriously concerned to see many people are worrying about the single fact that one in every 9 black children are found in this terrible condition. This cannot become a racial issue solely. The most important issue this report has uncovered is the magnitude of these dreadful effects.
Criminals are being sent to prison, and that is excellent. By no means does this country need to reform its prison laws. The country does not need to find a way to decrease the numbers because if that’s the number of criminals it’s having to deal with, then so be it. However, innocent children and teenagers who become vulnerable and collateral damage when they are left to fend for themselves in the foster system or with just one parent should be assisted by the government.
Lawmakers should focus on improving the foster and education systems principally to alleviate the conditions for these kids.