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2001 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 7, No. 1
January 2002

Child Reactions to Parental Incarceration

  • Identification with incarcerated parent, awareness of social stigma

  • Change in future orientation and intrusive thoughts about their parents

  • Concerned about outcomes of case, unsure and worried about how to live without mother, concern about an uncertain future

  • Flashbacks to traumatic events related to arrests

  • Embarrassment

  • Fear, anxiety

  • Anger and hyperarousal

  • Sadness

  • Guilt

  • Low self-esteem

  • Loneliness, feelings of abandonment, emotional withdrawal from friends and family

  • Depression

  • Sleeplessness

  • Eating and sleeping disorders

  • Attention disorders and developmental regression

  • Diminished academic performance, classroom behavior difficulties and truancy

  • Aggression, acting out, antisocial behaviors, and trauma-reactive behavior leading to early crime involvement

Wright, L. E. & Seymour, C. B. (2000). Working with children and families separated by incarceration: A handbook for child welfare agencies. Washington, DC: CWLA Press.