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Within various societies around the world, the number of kids whose parents are in prison is gradually rising. There are almost two million kids whose parents are behind bars (Turney, 2014). Many academics have worked to carry out various research to determine the difficulties that many of them confront. Notably, they risk a variety of negative consequences, like future substance misuse, involvement in criminal activity, poverty, and poor academic performance. It is crucial to understand that a parent's incarceration has a significant impact on the kids who are left behind. Most members of society are unaware that prisoners frequently leave behind families and children when they enter prison, whether they are men or women. The innocent children are left to carry the heavy burdens of grief and confusion and are likely to follow the criminal footsteps of their parents. Numerous studies have examined the impacts of incarceration on families. However, the researchers have not been able to distinguish the unexpected effects of incarceration from the effects of other risk factors that were initially present in a child’s life.
Also, during the period of incarceration, numerous families experience financial loss. The loss occurs if the imprisoned family member was a sole bread winner before incarceration (Turney, 2014). Children are left with no option but to seek care from other family members who strive to meet their needs. In other occasions, children engage in different odd jobs to get funds that they need to sustain their lives. It is imperative to assist the children in any way possible to ensure that they do not engage in criminal activities that would put their lives in danger.
The study addressed two primary research questions.
1) To what extent do parental risk factors influence child outcomes?
2) Are child outcomes more significantly linked to any one parental risk factor over another?
Hypothesis 1: The presence of numerous parental risk factors will increase the likelihood that children experience negative child outcomes.
Hypothesis 2 Specific child outcomes are linked to specific risk factors.
Purpose of the study
The underlying theme of this study is the examination of parental incarceration. Therefore, the research is likely to provide helpful insights in understanding child outcomes within multiple risk models. The study examines how parental risk factors influence child outcomes.
Sources and Method of Data Collection
In any study, the collection of relevant data for the investigation of problems stated is a prerequisite. The results of the survey are important when accurate data on specific issues are logically assembled.
There were mainly two sources of gathering data for the study.
I. Interviews: It is a study involving face to face interaction between the researcher and the children at risk.
II. Observation: It is grounded on the assumption that scientific knowledge is mainly concerned with observable experience.
Population of the Study
A population comprises of all subjects relating to a particular phenomenon that a researcher is interested in studying or describing (Turney, 2014). The study involved random selection of children from each group, and random assignment occurred at the family level to avoid sibling groups being in the same survey group. The total sample comprised of 865 children when the control, experimental and quasi-groups were combined. The study employed the use of content analysis in the interpretation of the data. The method was used in the determination of the relative emphasis of various information.
To test hypothesis 1, a risk index was created from existing data. Each child was assigned a score ranging between 0 to 4. The index involved the addition of the total number of risk factors that were present in each child’s life. A multivariate regression model was run using the risk index score as the independent variable. The analysis indicated that an accumulation of risks impacts numerous of the child outcomes under examination. Criminal behaviors and being arrested were most significantly impacted by an increasing number of risk factors, and behavioral difficulties approached significance. Interestingly, alcohol use and drug use were not found to be significantly impacted by a growing number of risk factors. This finding suggests that a mere accumulation of risk may not affect all outcomes in the same way.
The first probit model illustrated the impact of individual risks when other risks known to influence child outcomes were controlled for by the model. To establish the effect of the accumulated risk, a second probit regression was conducted using a risk index score. This index counts the total number of risk factors that are present in a child’s life and assigns a value of 0 to 4. If a child has no risks, s/he will be scored as a zero. If s/he has all four risks, the score will be four and so on.
From the result of the study, parental incarceration and parental mental illnesses were established to be linked to most outcomes. Besides, behavioral difficulties showed a link to only parental illness. This result is likely to suggest that other risk factors that play a role in the adverse outcomes may not contribute a significant amount of risk when the parental mental illness is present, and the seriousness of parental mental illness may trump the harmful effects of other risks factors. Although the study was successful, there were some challenges experienced. Some of the respondents were not feeling free to share their experiences. Some also presented inaccurate responses. It is appropriate to conduct future research on the same topic to come up with concrete results. To establish comprehensive findings on the subject, future studies should utilize a variety of statistical techniques.
Turney, K. (2014). Stress proliferation across generations? Examining the relationship between parental incarceration and childhood health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 55(3), 302-319.
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