Parental imprisonment: Long-lasting effects on boys' internalising problems through the life course

Qualitative studies indicate that children develop externalising and internalising behaviours as a reaction to their parents' imprisonment.

This peer reviewed study is the first to look at the long term affects of parental imprisonment on boys' internalisation of problems by using comparison groups and standardised tests. Longitudinal data from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, is used to compare boys' who were separated from their parents due to imprisonment in the first 10 years of their life with four control groups; those who did not experience separation, those separated because of death or hospitalisation, those separated for other reasons (mainly parental conflict) and those with parents imprisoned before they were born. Risk factors for internalising problems including individual, parenting and family factors were studied when the boys were 8-11 years of age. The study shows that even after controlling risk factors including parental criminality, boys' internalised problems were predicted by parental imprisonment between the ages of 14 and 48. Separation due to parental imprisonment also determined both internalising behaviours and anti social problems. The research concludes that long term internalising and antisocial problems in children can be caused by parental imprisonment.

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