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23-09-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 11/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 11/2020

Child (Un)Awareness of Parental Incarceration as a Risk Factor: Evidence from South Korea

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 11/2020
Youngki Woo, Melissa A. Kowalski
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A large body of research has been devoted to the relationship between parental incarceration and adverse outcomes for children, but such studies often compare children of incarcerated parents to those whose parents have never been imprisoned. Research is lacking regarding the effects of parental incarceration on children aware of their parent’s imprisonment compared to those who are unaware of their parent’s incarceration. In the current study we use propensity score weighting with a sample of 219 incarcerated Korean parents to examine differences in developmental outcomes between children cognizant of their parent’s incarceration and those who are unaware of parental imprisonment. We found that, compared to a control group of children not aware of their parent’s imprisonment, children aware of their parent’s incarceration demonstrate decreases in educational attainment and increases in depressive symptoms, victimization, and criminal justice system involvement. We also reveal that maternal incarceration has a larger impact on children’s developmental consequences than paternal incarceration. We discuss implications from our research, which may inform how children of incarcerated parents are treated in schools and their communities, so they do not face the stigmatization that their parent faces. Additionally, we recommend that children receive more contact with their incarcerated parent as well as acknowledgement that awareness of a parent’s imprisonment may present as a risk for children regarding their education, depressive symptoms, victimization, and criminal justice system involvement in South Korea.

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