Source: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Young adults with childhood history of both parental incarceration and juvenile justice involvement were nearly three times more likely to have depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to peers without any experience with the criminal justice system, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open. They also were nearly twice as likely to have anxiety compared to young adults without childhood exposure to incarceration.
“This is a particularly vulnerable and understudied population. Incarceration impacts families across generations, and youth who had a parent in jail or prison more often find themselves in the juvenile justice system,” says lead author Nia Heard-Garris, MD, MSc, a pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Instructor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Young adults with histories of both juvenile incarceration and parental incarceration as children had a strong association with poor mental health outcomes in young adulthood.”
Five million U.S. children have had a parent incarcerated, and those children are estimated to be involved in the juvenile justice system at three times the rate of their peers without a history of parental incarceration.