Children are the invisible victims of incarceration. The stigma that incarceration carries spills over onto the children of the "offenders." A child that have never committed a crime still tends to feel guilty by association. Children of incarcerated parents are some of America’s most at-risk kids, especially little black girls. Without a father in the home, they are at greater risk of abuse, physically, emotionally and sexually.
While black Americans make up 13 percent of the nation’s population, they reach roughly 40 percent of the prison population.
For 2.7 million children in the U.S., that story may be filled with the abandonment, loneliness, and shame that come from having a mom or dad in prison. For many, it may also include following their parents down the same destructive road to incarceration.
With the highest incarceration rate in the world, the United States has approximately 3 million children with at least one parent doing time. A sudden parental departure commonly leads to separation anxiety, anger, sadness, and feelings of loneliness and abandonment amongst young children.
Children and families with a loved one in prison are also "doing time" for their loved one's mistake. Because of this, children are more at risk for emotional, social, and classroom problems. Depending on their age, they are also more susceptible to engaging in substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, violent crime and even suicide.