Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 229–242 | Cite as

The Effect of Secrecy and Social Support on Behavioral Problems in Children of Incarcerated Women

  • Kristine Amlund Hagen
  • Barbara J. Myers


We investigated the effects of secrecy regarding their mothers' incarceration and social support on behavioral problems in a group of 116 children (aged 6–13 years, M = 9.00). Children with low levels of social support had more externalizing and internalizing problems, and children who had experienced more life stressors reported more internalizing problems. Significant interactions indicated that both externalizing and internalizing problem scores were higher for children whose social support was poor and secrecy scores were low. Our findings suggest that for children already suffering from little or no support from key people, having little or no constraints regarding talking about mothers' incarceration places children at risk for developing behavioral problems. We discuss explanations for the findings and implications for caregivers.

secrecy social support behavioral problems at-risk children maternal incarceration 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristine Amlund Hagen
    • 1
  • Barbara J. Myers
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond

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