jeez i wrote this last week and never posted. lame.
So everyone’s asking if I read the NYT’s article, In Prisoner’s Wake, a Tide of Troubled Kids. Yeah I read it and I did not like. As a child of a parent who spent most of my childhood in jail or cracked out, I turned out fine and I am tired of reading all these articles about how kids growing up in single parent households are screwed for life. This is defeatist. Yes, fathers are important to a child’s well-being but if a father is not there, that does not mean that child has no chance of a positive upbringing.
I had many problems with the article. The article appears to say create difference categories in father absence by protraying a parent is jail as more damaging to a child’s well-being than a child whose father just isn’t around? In both cases, a child does not have a father.
The chances of seeing a parent go to prison have never been greater, especially for poor black Americans, and new research is documenting the long-term harm to the children they leave behind. Recent studies indicate that having an incarcerated parent doubles the chance that a child will be at least temporarily homeless and measurably increases the likelihood of physically aggressive behavior, social isolation, depression and problems in school — all portending dimmer prospects in adulthood.
Children who grow up with fathers, whether they are in jail or not, are all at risk of low educational attainment, risky sexual behavior and violence. I don’t understand the need to create levels of father absence as if one reason a father is gone is better than another. They are all damaging.
We are introduced to the “Incarceration Generation,” children who grew up with at least one parent in prison and the article. The two children of the Incarceration Generation interviewed for this article are, in my opinion, extreme examples. Herbert Scott, who is 20 with a child and was awaiting sentencing for drug possession and robbery. By the end of the article, he was in jail. Then there is Terrisa Bryant who also had a child and was a high school dropout. I get it, the prospects are dim but it is not hopeless. Why not at least provide an example of a child of an incarecerated parent who was jail bound, a young (single) parent, or a drop out.
The article feels like CNN’s Black in America – providing no new information to the Black community, downplaying the positive – specifically Adam Gaine’s story – to focus on the negative Herbet Scott and providing no solutions. I would have rather read about how Gaine’s beat his addiction and how he got into (and stayed in) a program to train him to become a fitness teacher. I am not interested in Scott’s oh to common story of coming out of jail, talking about how he wants to be there for his kids and then winds up back in jail within a year. I don’t need to read that. I don’t want to read that. I would rather read about programming or policies that reach out to these children offer assistance. I would have rather read about programming that successfully reintroduces Black men into society and assists with training and housing. I would rather read about policies to loosen licensing restrictions to ex prisoners so that even low skill men can acquire jobs and make a decent living.
The article ultimately ignores a glaring issue – why are these men going to jail in the first place? It makes little mention of extremely harsh drug laws, and no mention of the limited employment of ex-felons, the impact of low educational attainment on potential earnings, lack of support upon reentry to society, I could go on for days. To place the blame solely on parents who are incarcerated is dangerous.