Incarceration in the Household: New Perspectives on Risk and Prevention

Nichols, Emily, Clinical Psychology - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Loper, Ann, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Thomas, Antoinette, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Sheras, Peter, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Meyer, Joseph, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This dissertation presents a line of research that expands the current literature on the ripple effects of the incarceration of family members on youth's school experience through three independent studies. It explores the impact of household member incarceration on youth's school outcomes, evaluates a new prison based intervention, and proposes protective factors for the academic experience of adolescents with incarcerated parents. The first study used National Longitudinal Survey of Youth data to indicate that youth who experienced a household members’ incarceration evidenced more strain, reported absences, and higher rates of school drop out relative to those youth who did not experience a household members' incarceration. In the second study, the content and responses to video messages from incarcerated parents to their children were evaluated; as frequency of contact and a general sense of connectedness to the incarcerated parent have been found to partially protect youth from decreases in achievement and school drop out. Analyses indicated that parents' expressed emotion were related to parents' emotions prior to filming, and as a result impacted children's moods after viewing the message. The final study examined the impact of parental incarceration on truancy, cumulative GPA, and highest level of education obtained using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. Weighted multilevel modeling results revealed significant risks associated with parental incarceration for all outcomes, even while controlling for protective factors. This study supports the pervasive academic risk associated with parental incarceration, while revealing potential areas for prevention and intervention in the schools. Overall, this dissertation supports the pervasive risk of parental and household member incarceration on school outcomes and factors related to school outcomes, while revealing potential areas for intervention and prevention within the prison and school environment.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
parental incarceration, academic outcomes, at-risk youth, protective factors
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