More than 5 million children in the U.S. have had a parent in jail. That’s roughly 7 percent of the nation’s kids 17 and under, or one out of every 14 children.
Findings from Child Trends — a nonprofit based in Maryland — explores “the prevalence of parental incarceration and child outcomes associated with it.” Data from 2011-2012 showed that children in poverty were three times more likely to experience a parent in incarceration, and the percentage rate among black children was twice as high as that of white children.
Child Trends found that of those children who had a parent in jail:
- More than 50 percent had lived with someone with a substance abuse problem.
- Roughly three in five had encountered parental divorce or separation.
- More than one-third had seen violence between parents or guardians.
- More than one in four had lived with a mentally ill or suicidal individual.
- Nearly one in 10 experienced the death of a parent.
The data may very well be an “underestimate,” Child Trends reports, as it does not include children with a non-residential incarcerated parent.