Saturday, 15 January 2005 - 8:00 AM
This presentation is part of: Delinquency in Female Adolescents
Incarcerated Mothers Reports of Their Daughters Antisocial Behavior, Maternal Supervision and Mother-Daughter RelationshipShonda Lawrence, PhD, Jackson State University.
Many children of incarcerated mothers exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression and social withdrawal. Since behavioral problems are often antecedents to delinquency, children of incarcerated women appear to be at high risk of engaging in delinquent behavior. Over the past decade there have been increasing numbers of mothers with minor children entering jails and prisons. One of the primary concerns expressed has been intergenerational crime and the belief that children will follow in their parents’ footsteps. Increasing numbers of females entering both the criminal and juvenile justice systems has led some observers to question if daughters are following their mothers to prison. Research on social relationships and delinquency consistently support the idea that supportive parental interactions promote healthy development among adolescents and deter delinquency. Parental supervision and the parent-child relationship are two major areas that have been highlighted. Although one may conclude that parental relationships and supervision are important to youth in varying circumstances, an empirical examination of the impact of the parental relationship and supervision on adolescent girls’ behaviors has not been examined for daughters of criminally involved mothers. This study examines the extent of delinquency and antisocial behavior among adolescent daughters of incarcerated mothers and the influence of the mother-daughter relationship and maternal supervision on daughters’ participation in delinquency and antisocial behavior. The study broadens our understanding of the factors that promote healthy development and prevent delinquent behavior among adolescent girls whose mothers are involved in the criminal justice system. 101 incarcerated mothers completed survey questionnaires that asked about their daughters’ participation and involvement in antisocial and delinquent behavior and the nature of both mother-daughter relationship and maternal supervision. The women in the study were primarily single, unemployed, nonviolent, drug offenders. Mothers reported low levels of involvement in antisocial and delinquent behavior for their daughters. Participation in antisocial behavior was inversely related to positive mother-daughter relationship. Maternal supervision was not related to level of participation in antisocial or delinquent behavior. This study suggests that we cannot make the assumption that because mothers are involved in antisocial and criminal behaviors their daughters are also involved in such activities. Nor can we focus only on the mother and her behavior when examining factors thought to influence daughters of criminally involved mother’s behaviors. The findings also offer policy makers and practitioners a clearer description of the circumstances in which adolescent daughters of incarcerated women live. This study revealed that although many of the women were living with their daughters prior to their arrest, only about 1/4 of the women were the only adult in the household & less than 1/3 were their daughter’s primary caregiver alone. Although women in the study were involved with their daughters it was apparent that most were not fully assuming parenting roles. Programs and services that address issues such as drug dependency for mothers and substitute parenting of girls must be included in broad based efforts that advocate for maintenance of the relationship between women involved in the criminal justice system and their daughters.
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