Simon I. Singer


Losing a parent to incarceration can have a wide range of devastating effects on prisoners' children. The parent-child relationship is extremely important in a child's development and can have strong implications on the behavior that is exhibited. The literature on attachment theory and parental absence suggest that children who lack parental relationships that combine loving support with structured discipline will show increased signs of antisocial behavior. This is commonly exhibited in children with incarcerated parents because attachment bonds are likely to have never been formed or are broken upon imprisonment. The attachment a child has to their parent, as well as the indirect controls a parent has over the child, forms protective factors that reduce the incidence of delinquency. Children of incarcerated parents are not always afforded these protective factors, and are also exposed to higher levels of risk factors that can contribute to delinquent behavior. Parental incarceration increases a child's chance of experiencing disruptions, ineffective parenting, and loss of parental contact and academic difficulties, which can lead to juvenile delinquency. The solution to this increasingly prevalent problem is complex, since only targeting one risk factor would not be sufficient. However, as the United States relies more heavily on imprisonment as a form of punishment, it is necessary that these issues be taken into account.

Date Accepted


Publication Date


Subject Categories

children of prisoners


children, incarceration, attachment

Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Rights Holder

Kimberly Galione

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