The children of parents who are incarcerated in the U.S. suffer significant health and behavioral problems, and in some cases these problems are worse than those experienced by kids dealing with divorce or a parent's death, according to a new UC Irvine study.
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2 million people currently behind bars. The rate has alarmed liberals and conservatives alike. The study doesn't go there, but you can imagine how the higher health woes of the children of those in prison impacts that political football known as the U.S. health-care system.
"We know that poor people and racial minorities are incarcerated at higher rates than the rest of the population, and incarceration further hinders the health and development of children who are already experiencing significant challenges," says study author Kristin Turney, a UCI assistant professor of sociology, in a statement from the university.
"Our results suggest that children's health disadvantages are an overlooked and unintended consequence of mass incarceration," Turney continues. "Incarceration, given its unequal distribution across the population, may have implications for racial and social class inequalities in children's health."
Asthma, obesity, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression and anxiety are among the maladies that children of the incarcerated suffer more often than other kids, finds the study that appears in the September edition of the Journal of Health & Social Behavior, a publication of the American Sociological Association.