A research carried out by Farrington, David and Murray, and Joseph in the year 2005 on the effects of parental imprisonment on boy’s antisocial and delinquency, had “due to parental imprisonment male children developed antisocial and delinquency behavior” as their statement of the problem. According to research carried in 2009 by sociologist Sara Wakefield, when a parent goes to jail, the children left behind are at a higher risk of being temporarily homeless and the chances are that the children will develop aggressive behavior, feeling of social isolation, and stress. In school, the child will perform poorly as he does not concentrate but constantly thinking of their imprisoned parents. Moreover, this behavior is carried forward to adulthood and the affected people have a problem with their workmates, bosses, and even their spouses. Sara adds that on reaching adolescence, these children are likely to start taking drugs, stop going to school, and engage themselves in criminal activities. Sara also found out that the children whose parents were in prison show some mental disturbance which required clinical evaluation.
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Dr. Christopher Wildeman, a sociologist at the University of Michigan conducted research on the “incarceration generation” in 2007 and found out that children of imprisoned parents show aggressive behavior because they live in a destitute and unstable environment that has been created by the absence of their parents. He discovered this when he observed two five-year-old boys; one of whom the father had been imprisoned and the other whom the father was a free man. The boy whose father was in prison showed aggressive behavior like hitting others and destroying objects, while the other boy was calm.
The current study was based on the hypothesis that due to parental imprisonment, the male children developed antisocial and delinquent behavior which is attributed to the trauma of separation of the child from the parent, and feeling of shame due to the criminal mark labeled on their parents. The study uses secondary data from Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development which contains data on all London males and their parents. In the study, the boys who were separated from their parents due to parental imprisonment are studied for a period of ten years; the control groups that involved boys not separated from their parents, those separated due to illness or death of a parent, those separated due to other reasons, and boys whose parents were imprisoned before their birth. The findings were that all the male children separated from their parents due to parental imprisonment showed antisocial and delinquent behavior as compared with the other four groups. Moreover, this separation was also linked to other childhood factors for delinquency. Even after the release of the parent, the child showed antisocial and delinquent behavior. Moreover, this behavior of delinquency and antisocial was also reflected even in middle adulthood.
In conclusion, parental imprisonment does not only affect children’s social and moral aspects but also leads to a decline in family income, stigma to the children, and lead to the reduction of quality parenting that is offered when both parents are involved in the parenting of children. However, this research did not offer the degree to which the children are affected. Additionally, it did not of the variance of the children’s behavior in relation to the charges and the crime committed by the parent. For instance, it did not show how children react when their parents are convicted of murder or homicide charges as compared to those whose parents are convicted of lesser charges.
Parental Imprisonment: Effects on Boy’s Antisocial Behavior and Delinquency through the Life course Farrington, David & Murray, Joseph. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2005 Issue number: 0021-9630.