A Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Stigmatization of Children of Incarcerated Parents
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- Phillips, S.D. & Gates, T. J Child Fam Stud (2011) 20: 286. doi:10.1007/s10826-010-9391-6
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Stigmatization is often listed as one of the adverse consequences of parental incarceration; yet, there is very little research on this phenomenon. We address this knowledge deficit by providing a conceptual model of stigmatization and describing how it may apply to children with parents in jail or prison. This model helps to explain why families conceal the fact that a child’s parent is incarcerated; the potentially protective function of social withdrawal; possible links between stigmatization and childhood emotional and behavioral problems; how fear of stigmatization may impede help seeking; and the possibility for research and advocacy to contribute to the stigmatization of children who experience parental incarceration. It also helps to define specific aspects of stigmatization requiring further study.