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Children of Incarcerated Parents: Development of Externalizing Behaviors Across Adolescence

NCJ Number
Children and Youth Services Review Volume: 94 Dated: 2018 Pages: 628-635
Jean M. Kjellstrand; Wen M. Reinkebj; Mark Eddy
Date Published
8 pages
This study used latent growth curve (LGC) modeling to examine whether parental incarceration during childhood predicted a higher initial level of externalizing behaviors by children in late childhood, as well as the persistence and growth of these behaviors across adolescence.
Increasingly, "children of incarcerated parents" is becoming the label to describe a growing number of children with a history of parental incarceration; however, although these children and families frequently experience a variety of challenges, the web of interacting influences they face is complex. This variation makes it difficult to understand the effects of parental incarceration on children over time as well as to find solutions that help promote positive youth development for children impacted by parental incarceration. The analyses of the current study controlled for the influence of covariates that research has demonstrated are predictive of externalizing behaviors, including SES, gender, academic achievement, parental depression, and parent-child relationship quality. When controlling for the covariates, parental incarceration was not significantly related to child externalizing behaviors at baseline; however, parental incarceration was the sole predictor of an increase in externalizing problems over time. Implications for practice and research are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)