A Father Without a Family: Is dad a bad person…
What is the collateral damage to a child when one of their parents goes to jail? There is obviously a huge number of reasons why someone would be going to jail, nevertheless it is all criminal activity whether its drink driving, or armed assault.
There is a world of statistics to inform us on what types of people commit crime; for example, in Australia, white-collar crime is more popular with people who have the power and means to avoid detection. This does not in any way pre-dispose people from higher education and money to commit fraudulent crime. What is does say is that people from all parts our of socio-economic schema commit crime, and therefore equally there is a spread of children affected by this crime across our community.
I wonder then, do children who in general, attend the higher performing schools experience a jailed parent different to those in a lower performing school? Is there a link between education and how socially unacceptable behaviour is perceived by our children? I would argue yes there is! Like so many parts of our life, education is key. We must also accept that children who do attend our very best schools are not immune from any criminality or from developing attitudes that the majority of society would find questionable. Perceived rules, norms, and attitudes are all developed in the home, at school and in the community our children are being raised in. All three of these factors contribute to how our kids will judge and question social behaviour. We must also understand the affect both social and traditional media have on our young peoples brains. There are numerous examples of children being bullied online with some feeling so unloved that they resort to suicide. This is a huge slight on our community as a whole, and not just the parents of these kids. I wonder if in liberalising our world we have lost a little protection for those that really do not it sometimes!
When a parent goes to jail, there is a grieving process with all the side effects that come with it. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally Acceptance. All parties involved would experience this based on their connection with the person being jailed.
What happens to the people left behind? Are the parents together or separated? Will the other parent try to shape the child’s mind on what ‘they’ think about the other parent being in jail? How will the child be treated at school when all their friends find out? There are some huge underlying issues for our children to face when one of use gets incarcerated, this should underpin our moral and ethical decision-making process before undertaking such illegal activity. Going to jail may very well ruin your life as an adult, however it may also ruin your child’s life, this is terribly selfish not to comprehend the complete cost of your actions.
A person committed to jail does not mean they are without the means for rehabilitation. Nor should they be considered incapable of being an active parent. Our society is based on the rule of law, without it, we would quickly wind the Darwinian clock back a few steps. People do make mistakes, I have and will continue to do so, we all do, its part of being human! This here is tricky part, supporting a parent who is incarcerated by ensuring their child has a balanced view of such matters. This comes through education…
Many would argue that is all depends on the crime. Is a rapist, murderer or sex offender capable of being an active parent? I would think the community at large would say no, I would think most people think that they lost those rights when they committed such horrendous crimes, and I guess I agree.
How then, do we filter what crime is worthy of contact with your child and what is not? What about time, if it is a short time in jail, how does that compare with a long stint. Should the children get to see the parent, do they visit the jail? Is that is what is best for the child, or is it about making the incarcerated parent feel connected to outside world?
Recently Sesame Street aired an episode, which covered this very subject. They have created a kit, which is designed to assist children and carers of people who are incarcerated.
In think in the end, we do need to focus on the children, sure the jailed parent will need support but they are an adult and have allot more life experience to help them through their time in jail, and as an adult they should take responsibility for their actions if found guilty. Our children however are not that well equipped; they need support, love, and security.
Choose your actions carefully; there is always collateral damage when you go to jail.
Podcast available here;