Children with an incarcerated parent are at risk of immediate threats to their emotional, physical, academic, and financial well-being. Although each child's circumstances are unique, every child faces the reality of forced separation. Their loss is rarely met with the same level of community support provided to children dealing with other forms of parental separation. The stress of loss can become overwhelming, especially when compounded by the social isolation that frequently accompanies parental incarceration.
Shame and stigma are hallmarks of parental incarceration. Children with an incarcerated parent experience associative stigma or stigma by association, which occurs when a person is ostracized or fears ostracism due to their relationship with someone who is a member of a stigmatized group. When labeled by their relationship with their incarcerated parent, children are frequently subjected to discrimination and social isolation. Additionally, these children experience fear of shame and stigma that is often excessive and disproportionate to the stigma they actually encounter.
Shame & Stigma
ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES
Parental Incarceration - An ACE
In 1998, Felitti, Anda, et al. published a landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study. The collaborative effort between San Diego's Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control identified ten traumatic childhood stressors - including parental incarceration - that were strong predictors of lifelong negative impacts on health and well-being.