Sunday, September 22, 2019

Effects Of Women Incarceration On Young Children Essay Example for Free

Effects Of Women Incarceration On Young Children Essay Women incarceration has been on increase since the nineteenth century. This has had various effects on children of these imprisoned mothers. When a woman is incarcerated, whatever happens to their children is a matter of great concern. This paper aims at showing the impacts of women incarceration on children. This is in relation to their development and well being. (Beckerman, 1994) It is good to consider the family networks when looking at the impact of women incarceration on young children. A child’s development level has to be considered too when looking at the effects of women imprisonment. Parental incarceration has been increasing at an alarming rate since the year 1991. In the year 1991 there were approximately 450,000 parents imprisoned and by the year 2000 this number had increased to 437,400. The number of children that were affected also rose from 930,000 to 1,530, 500 during the same period. The number of women prisoners has continued to increase at a very fast rate as compared to men. From the year 1991 to the year 2000 there has been an 87 percent increase in the number incarcerated women as compared to 61 percent increase in number of incarcerated men. Research shows that fifty eight percent of the children that have incarcerated parents fall below the age of ten years. The mean age is eight years. Research indicates that forty eight percent of the women in prisons have never been married. This means that they are single parents. Twenty five percent of incarcerated women were separated or divorced. Approximately twenty three to thirty six percent of the women were married. Research shows that women incarceration can have different impacts on young children whether they were residing with the children or not when they got imprisoned. It is very obvious that in case the women were not staying with their children, then there are great chances that there was no meaningful social relationship between the two parties (children and mothers). Research shows that women incarceration has multiple effects on young children because when men are imprisoned, it is the women who take care of the children. When this happens mothers use ninety percent of their time in care giving. Now the case is the other way round, that is, when women are imprisoned. (Pollock, 2002) Research indicates that in the case of women incarceration the men only use twenty three to thirty one percent of their time to take care of young children. Friends can use approximately ten to twelve percent of their time to help while relatives assume the parenting role in approximately twenty six to thirty four percent of the cases only. These disparities in parenting responsibilities show the exact picture in the society that mothers play big roles in parenting especially in intact families. (Boudin, 1998) Women in most cases are more likely to be imprisoned because of fraud and drug offences. The type of offence always determines the period that they stay in prison. Women incarceration has got greater impacts on young children than men incarceration. According to various scholars, incarceration is not just a discrete or single event but it is actually a dynamic process that normally unfolds with time. (Chesney, 1983) Arrest phase The whole impact of women incarceration on children during this phase is indicated in an incomplete picture. Research shows that one out of five children is normally present at the time of arrest. The child normally witnesses the mother being taken to prison by policemen or the relevant authorities. Statistics show that in most cases, the other children are out playing or in school or doing other leisure activities. Research carried out in the year 2005 in United States shows that more than half of the children who witness this scenario are adversely affected. (Boudin, 1998) In most cases these children are normally below seven years and are care of their mother only as per that time. Surveys carried out in nine states in United States, that is, Chicago, Mississippi, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, New Jersey, Boston, Florida and Washington D. C reveal this. Forty percent of the children who had ever witnessed their mothers being arrested were interviewed. Thirty eight percent of the children respondents admitted that they constantly suffered flashbacks and nightmares in relation to the incident. The occurrence was more prevalent during the first month that their mothers were arrested. Overall management of explanation There are so many controversies that enfold the issue of providing young children with the information concerning their mothers undergoing incarceration. There are those who argue that children should not know that their mother has undergone such a bad thing. This according to the assertions helps in minimizing the trauma that goes hand in hand with this separation. (Covington, 1997) On the other hand, other scholars argue that failure to disclose this important information can increase the emotional distress of the child. This is termed as conspiracy of silence. Regardless of whether women are the ones incarcerated or not, they are charged with the responsibility of explaining the whole situation to the children. Research carried out in the year 1997 indicates that out of thirty five cases only eight of these cases did the fathers offer their children an explanation concerning their mother being incarcerated. (Chesney, 1983) In most of the cases the explanation provided is quite general and vague. Many relatives and fathers lie to their children concerning the departure of their mother. There are variations such that some families use total deception while others use partial deception when explaining why the mother is missing. This conspiracy of deception has got various impacts on the children’s ability to cope with the whole issue. Children who are not well informed about their mother’s absence are very fearful and anxious. Inmost cases women incarcerations occur when the attachment of the children to their mothers has already developed. This can lead to adverse effects on the child because he or she could have spent the first nine to twelve months with the mother. (Covington, 1997) This normally results in insecure attachments. This is just but a consequence of the adverse shifts in life circumstances. This in most cases makes the child to have very poor relationships during his or her adolescent years. Another adverse effect of the child’s mother undergoing incarceration is that it makes the child to develop diminished cognitive abilities. This is very common to young children between two to six years of age. (Enos, 1998) The effects of women incarceration on young children are quite diverse. Young children with incarcerated mothers also tend to suffer from psychological or emotional problems. This is exhibited through withdrawal. In this case the children never want to associate with others and prefer being on their own even during play time. Psychological problems are also exhibited through depression, hyper vigilance and anxiety. In the case of hyper vigilance, the children are just too cautious or alert. The children whose mother has been incarcerated can also exhibit externalizing behaviors. They include great hostility towards siblings and caregivers, aggression and anger. Research in United States prisons shows that very few prisons permit women prisoners to keep their infants. In most of the cases the mothers are just permitted few days of contact with their babies. (Henriquez, 1996) This makes it very hard for the mother and baby to bond. This does not give the baby the opportunity to be familiar with the mother. When the mother is finally released from prison, she comes back home when the child has already developed and is not emotionally attached to her. This just results in children having behavioral and emotional problems later in life. (Pollock, 2002) In case the mother’s incarceration occurs when the children are in the school going age, they automatically get affected in their academics. These children also have problems with their peer relationships. Research shows that more than forty five percent of children with incarcerated mothers have school problems. This can result the children performing poorly at school. For young children between the ages of six to eight years old whose mothers were incarcerated, there was much unwillingness to go to school. This can be termed in other words as school phobias. This was in most cases for the up to six weeks after the mother being imprisoned. Other reports show that seventy one percent of 170 children of incarcerated mothers had very poor performance in their academics. They also had behavioral problems while in school. When other students know of the issue concerning the incarceration of the child, they tend to tease the child and he or she may become ostracized by peers. This can even lead to drop out from school if not suspension because of behavioral problems. (Enos, 1998) Boys and girls While the effects of women incarceration are expected to adversely affect girls more than boys, there is no adequate evidence to back up these allegations. Both boys and girls are normally adversely affected by the incarceration of their mothers. The only difference is that they generally express their reactions quite differently. Girls in most instances exhibit internalizing problems while boys exhibit externalizing behavior problems due to incarceration of their mother. (Owen, 1995) As illustrated earlier on, some of the women that are incarcerated are single parents. They may never have gotten married or they could have gone through a divorce. When arrests are made either to a man or a woman, there is normally no prior information that this act will be carried out. Therefore in most cases the woman is found off guard when she is not prepared to leave her family. This is in relation to who will fend or take care of the children. Children may have gone to school only to come back to an empty house without a mother. This can really cause distress to children when it is a single parent family as they have to fend for themselves. The impact is what we currently see on the streets-street children who were left behind by incarcerated mothers. This causes a lot of destabilization to young children because they are not old enough to work. They cannot afford to pay rent and therefore they just have to beg on the streets. Other children become house helps so that they can cater for their basis needs. They even carry work as baby sitters. Children whose mothers have been imprisoned can have eating problems. This is a result of the stress or depression of not having their mother around especially during meal times. Other children whose mothers have been incarcerated normally have clinging behavior. They also exhibit truancy in church attendance. When mothers are imprisoned the health of the children is known to automatically deteriorate. This is according to the recent studies carried out in Florida, Boston, Mississippi and New Jersey. Women are normally concerned with the health of the children a great deal more than men. There are instances when children have health problems and women because of their concern, take care of them. (Sobel, 1982) Most men come back late from work and leave early and therefore may not know so much in relation to the health of the children. Little things like allergies to foods are better known to the mother. When there is incarceration of the women the health of children declines because men or fathers care less. They may leave the duties to house helps who may not give maximum attention to the child as required. This results in health deterioration of children. Conclusion Incarceration of women has been on increase and this has got various effects on young children. Children who witness their mother being arrested have nightmares and flashbacks of the whole scenario. Fathers and relatives normally withhold information concerning the incarceration of the mother. This is conspiracy of silence and it increases fear and anxiety in children. A mother’s incarceration makes a child to have emotional or psychological problems which are exhibited through depression, hyper vigilance and anxiety. In case the child is of school going age it results in poor performance in his or her academics.

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