Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 286–294

A Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Stigmatization of Children of Incarcerated Parents

Review Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10826-010-9391-6

Cite this article as:
Phillips, S.D. & Gates, T. J Child Fam Stud (2011) 20: 286. doi:10.1007/s10826-010-9391-6


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.


Parents in prison Parental incarceration Stigma Discrimination Children of incarcerated parents 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jane Addams College of Social WorkUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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