221092 Effects of parental incarceration on likelihood of psychiatric disorder and criminal behavior in youth: A longitudinal, population-based study

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Anya Drabkin, MS , Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC
William Copeland, PhD , Developmental Epidemiology, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Division of Medical Psychology, School of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC
Kathleen J. Sikkema, PhD , Departments of Nursing, Psychology and Psychiatry, Duke University, Durham, NC
Background: The U.S. currently incarcerates a higher proportion of its adult population than any other country in the world; over 2.4 million children in the U.S. currently have a parent who is incarcerated. A small body of rigorous research has emerged demonstrating that parental incarceration is a significant risk factor for both psychiatric disorder and criminal behavior throughout the lifecourse. The current study uses a largely rural sample to evaluate rates of psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence, and criminal behavior in young adulthood, comparing youth affected by parental incarceration to both youth who have experienced no loss and those whose parent has died. Methods: A representative sample of 1420 children aged 9, 11, and 13 were assessed annually up to age 16 and then again at ages 19 and 21 for psychiatric status. Criminal behavior in young adulthood (ages 16-21) was obtained through court records. Parental incarceration and death were ascertained through child and parental interviews. Results: 22% of the sample had a parent that had been incarcerated. In adjusted models, parental incarceration was associated with almost twice the odds of emotional and behavioral disorders in youth, and over three times the odds of violent criminal behavior in young adulthood. This pattern was maintained when the parental incarceration group was compared to the parental death group. Conclusions: Parental incarceration is a robust predictor of psychiatric disorder in youth and criminal behavior in young adulthood. Interventions targeting children of incarcerated parents may mitigate individual morbidity as well as societal expense.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the ways in which youth affected by parental incarceration are at increased risk for psychiatric disorder and criminal behavior. Compare the psychiatric risks experienced by youth affected by parental incarceration to those experienced by youth affected by parental death.

Keywords: Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Incarceration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have studied epidemiology and biostatistics as part of a master's program in public health, and am now in a doctoral program studying clinical psychology; and the research was conducted under the mentorship of established investigators.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4206.0: Adolescent mental health