Kids in Crisis
On any given day, 45,000 Canadian kids have a parent in prison. Over the course of a year, 256,000 children experience what it’s like to have a parent behind bars.
Virtually all these kids report deep feelings of shame, abandonment, isolation, anxiety and fear. Few understand what has happened to their parent. For children of female inmates, the challenges are even worse. When a father goes to jail, the mother usually looks after the kids. The same is not true in the case of incarcerated mothers – the vast majority are single parents living below the poverty line. When moms go prison, all too often kids go to foster care – losing their caregiver, their home, their school and their friends on one fell swoop.
It’s traumatic. The children grieve for their lost parent. They are haunted by sayings like “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” They are angry, alone and powerless to change their situation. Statistically, they are predisposed to mental illness, lower academic achievement, drug addiction, gang involvement, homelessness and prison.
There are no government programs to support these kids in Canada. They need our help.