MAPping solutions for children of the incarcerated.

MAP is excited to be attending the Travis County re-entry roundtable today to collectively examine strategies for serving kids with an incarcerated parent. Currently, more than 2 million children have an incarcerated parent and more than 7 million children have a parent or relative under criminal justice supervision. We know that these children experience enormous challenges, including “longterm psychological effects [such as] insecure attachments; internalizing problems such as anxiety, withdrawal, hypervigilance, depression, shame and guilt; and externalizing behaviors such as anger, aggression and hostility towards caregivers and siblings.” ¹ In other words, they have a lot going on, and the stress of what they experience has dramatic results. In fact, the most profound result is the fact that these children have “an increased likelihood [of] engaging in antisocial behavior and eventually joining the prison population themselves, either as juveniles or as adults.”²

The Media Awareness Project believes that all children benefit from the kind of social and emotional learning that happens in our programs, and we are looking for ways to apply this model to kids who are especially at-risk in our community. This week we’ll be spending some of our blog time talking about how social and emotional learning can benefit kids under heavy stress, and we’ll be looking at ways media can empower a child to process extreme circumstances.

¹Parke, Ross D. and K. Alison Clarke-Stewart. Effects of Parental Incarceration on Young Children. Washington, D.C. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002. Retrieved on July 13, 2011 from

²Allard, Patricia and Judith Greene. Children on the Outside: Voicing the Pain and Human Costs of parental incarceration. Justice Strategies, 2011.

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