Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 214–224 | Cite as

Children Exposed to the Arrest of a Family Member: Associations with Mental Health

  • Yvonne Humenay Roberts
  • Frank J. Snyder
  • Joy S. Kaufman
  • Meghan K. Finley
  • Amy Griffin
  • Janet Anderson
  • Tim Marshall
  • Susan Radway
  • Virginia Stack
  • Cindy A. Crusto
Original Paper


The arrest of a parent or other family member can be detrimental to children’s health. To study the impact of exposure to the arrest of a family member on children’s mental health and how said association may change across developmental periods, we examined baseline data for children (birth through 11 years) entering family-based systems of care (SOC). Children exposed to the arrest of a family member had experienced significantly more 5.38 (SD = 2.59) different types of potentially traumatic events (PTE) than children not exposed to arrest 2.84 (SD = 2.56). Multiple regression model results showed that arrest exposure was significantly associated with greater behavioral and emotional challenges after controlling for children’s age, gender, race/ethnicity, household income, caregiver’s education, parenting factors, and other PTE exposure. Further analyses revealed differences in internalizing and externalizing behaviors associated with arrest exposure across developmental levels. This study highlights some of the mental health challenges for children exposed to the arrest of a family member, while adding to our knowledge of how such an event affects children across different developmental periods. More trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate systems need to be in place at all levels to assist children and families experiencing arrest.


Young children Arrest Trauma Mental health Development 



This project was funded through cooperative agreements provided to the States of Rhode Island and Connecticut by the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Support for Drs. Roberts and Snyder was provided by a NIDA funded Postdoctoral Research Training Program (T32 DA019426). We acknowledge Jo-Ann Gargiulo, M. P. H., and Miralys Camelo, M. A. for collecting and managing study data, and Christopher Bory, Psy.D., for his insight and comments on the paper. We thank the Risk and Resiliency Lab group, Division of Prevention and Community Research, Department of Psychiatry for their helpful remarks on the paper. We thank our community partners for supporting, helping to conceptualize, and implementing this study. We especially thank the children and their families who participated in this study. Janet Anderson is now at Wheeler Clinic, Plainville, CT; Meghan Finley is now at Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, CT; Susan Radway is now at Connecticut State Department of Education, Hartford, CT.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne Humenay Roberts
    • 1
  • Frank J. Snyder
    • 1
  • Joy S. Kaufman
    • 1
  • Meghan K. Finley
    • 2
  • Amy Griffin
    • 2
  • Janet Anderson
    • 3
  • Tim Marshall
    • 4
  • Susan Radway
    • 5
  • Virginia Stack
    • 6
  • Cindy A. Crusto
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Prevention and Community ResearchYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.The Consultation CenterNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Rhode Island Department of Children and FamiliesProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Connecticut Department of Children and FamiliesHartfordUSA
  5. 5.LEARN Regional Educational CenterOld LymeUSA
  6. 6.Paul V. Sherlock Center on DisabilitiesRhode Island CollegeProvidenceUSA

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