Issues and Facts
  • Do Prison Visits Play a Key Role In Child Development?

    Posted on   11/6/2012  3:10 PM

    Many who work in child protective services are wary of children visiting their parents in prison. Even some parents might also wonder if it’s detrimental for their children to see them in the prison setting.

    However, numerous studies have found that it’s actually beneficial for children to visit their incarcerated parents.

    As stated in our previous blog post, children who regularly see their incarcerated parents score higher on measures of well-being, IQ, emotional adjustment, and behavioral measures. Frequent visitation means the child is less likely to experience feelings of abandonment.

    The study Children with Parents in Prison: Child Welfare Policy, Program, and Practice Issues, which found evidence that prison visitation is valuable for children of inmates, also references another study that came to the same conclusion:

    “…a 1992 survey of the adults who were supervising 240 visiting children showed that negative reactions among children were minor, and generally limited to excitability on the day of the visit or several days after. Since there is evidence that the frequency, nature, and duration of parent-child contacts following separation play a key role in a child’s future development, visitation should be viewed as a beneficial, low-cost intervention that ameliorates the negative impacts of separation and that may help reduce future antisocial behavior among prisoners’ children.”

    At the Service Network for Children of Inmates, we believe that prison visitation is vital to the development of the children we serve. Four times a year, we take children to see their parents in prison, when appropriate, and have seen similar positive results as well.

    What are your thoughts on prison visitation? Should children be encouraged to see their incarcerated parents? Respond below.


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