Children's antisocial behaviour, mental health, drug use and educational performance after parental incarceration: A systematic review and meta-analysis

This peer reviewed research was conducted in light of the large numbers of children who experience parental imprisonment internationally and the difficulties this entails e.g. separation, stigma, loneliness, confusion, financial difficulties, unstable childcare, parenting challenges and movement out of homes, schools and neighbourhoods. Further such children often have numerous stressful events in their lives before their parent goes inside. Theoretically, the combination of these things leads to children with parents inside being at risk of adverse behavioural outcomes. This report uses meta-analysis to systematically review 40 studies to synthesise empirical evidence on associations between parental imprisonment and children's behavioural outcomes. The results show that the children with a parent in prison were at higher risk of antisocial behaviour but not for mental health issues, drug use or poor educational performance. Studies where parental criminality or children's antisocial behaviour was controlled showed that, approximatley, 10% increased risk for antisocial behaviour amongst children with imprisoned parents compared to those whose parents were free. The study notes the poor methodological quality of the studies reviewed and calls for more longitudinal study and thorough tests of causal effects of parental imprisonment.

See this review and analysis of children's behaviour after parental incarceration or download report below:

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