Experts have revealed that children tend to suffer more when either of their parents gets incarcerated for committing crimes. The children end up paying steep penalties for the offenses that land their parents in jails and prisons.
To this end, social experts point out that the price children pay is more than just being separated from their parents. They also suffer psychological and emotional traumas, Prison Fellowship reports.
Incarceration of a Parent is a Tragedy to a Child
A child experiences confusing emotions when a parent goes to prison. The loss that stares the child in the face can be enumerated in a number of ways. These are just some of the tragedies suffered by prison children when either of their parents gets incarcerated:
- Sudden loss: When a parent is arrested and sentenced to jail for a crime, the event is usually a sudden incident that catches the child unprepared. The minor never sees it coming. It’s even worse when the child witnesses the arrest and incarceration of a parent.
- Psychological disturbance: A child undergoes severe psychological trauma when a parent is sent to prison. This incident creates unnecessary anxiety and worry about what will happen to the parent. Many kids worry about what will happen to them as a result of the parent being taken away.
- Untold hardship: A family is usually thrown into sudden hardship when the breadwinner of the family is thrown into prison, or when the homemaker gets jailed for some offense. The children and the entire family suffers financial crisis. And, the family economy turns upside down when either of their parents gets incarcerated
- Problems at school: Need it be mentioned that a child’s performance suffers in school when a parent goes to jail? School attendance declines, along with concentration and motivation. And, oftentimes, other children make fun of the prison child at school and in the neighborhood.
- Long distance from prison: Parents’ prison sentences separate their kids from them. But, it’s the distance of the prison away from home that separates them even more. In most cases, this makes it very difficult, if not nearly impossible, for the children to visit parents in prisons.
Psychological Effects for Kids When Either of Their Parents Gets Incarcerated
On top of the physical hardships that children of incarcerated parents suffer, they are also subjected to hurt feelings. These are more psychological in nature. Some of the hurtful feelings these prison kids suffer are:
Support Groups for Children of Incarcerated Parents
Some of the physical and emotional traumas that children experience when their parent goes to prison are temporary, while others are more permanent.
There should be safety nets in the community to help prison children make sense of their situations and recover from their losses. Support groups and local churches should also do more to accommodate children who are affected by the incarceration of their parents.
Some of these emotions come and go, while others are pervasive. Hopefully, there are also some protective factors present in the community to help these children overcome their trauma. Research on resiliency describes three key factors that are most protective: relationships, skills, and faith.
These three important protective factors—relationships, skills, and faith—can be found in the local Body of Christ. Let us pray that the Church will arise to the need and willingly open its arms to the children and families of the incarcerated.