Families, Children, and Housing


Related Chapters:

Page last updated June 10, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

1. Juvenile Injustice: Children In The Criminal Justice System

"Too many children—particularly children in poverty; children of color; children with disabilities; children with mental health and substance abuse challenges; children subjected to neglect, abuse and/or other violence; children in foster care and LGBTQ children—are pushed out of their schools and homes into the juvenile justice or adult criminal justice systems. While the number of children arrested and incarcerated has declined over the past decade largely due to positive changes in policy and practice, America’s children continue to be criminalized at alarming rates.

"• In 2018, 728,280 children were arrested in the U.S. (see Table 33). A child or teen was arrested every 43 seconds despite a 63 percent reduction in child arrests between 2009 and 2018.

"• Although the number of children in the juvenile justice system has been cut in half since 2007, 43,580 children and youth were held in residential placement on a given night in 2017. Nearly 2 in 3 were placed in the most restrictive facilities.2

"• Another 935 children were incarcerated in adult prisons on any given night in 2017—down from 2,283 in 2007 (see Table 35). An estimated 76,000 children are prosecuted, sentenced or incarcerated as adults annually.3

"• While many states have made legislative changes to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18, five states still automatically prosecute 17-year-olds as adults (Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin) and all states allow children charged with certain offenses to be prosecuted in adult courts.4"

"The State of America's Children 2020," Children's Defense Fund. Washington, DC: 2020.

2. Juvenile Injustice: Racism and Bigotry in the Juvenile Criminal Justice System

"• Although 62 percent of children arrested in the U.S. were white, children of color were nearly two times more likely to be arrested than white children.5 Black children were two and a half times more likely.6

"• In 2017, the residential placement rate for children of color was more than two times that for white children nationwide and more than four times that for white children in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Black children were committed or detained at nearly five times the rate of white children.7

"• Two-thirds (67 percent) of children in the juvenile justice system were children of color: 41 percent were Black and 21 percent were Hispanic (see Table 34).

"• Children of color are also disproportionately transferred to the adult criminal justice system, where they are tried and prosecuted as adults. In 2017, Black youth represented 54 percent of youth prosecuted in adult criminal court but only 15 percent of the total youth population.8 Black youth are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence; American Indian/Alaska Native youth are almost two times more likely and Hispanic youth are 40 percent more likely.9"

"The State of America's Children 2020," Children's Defense Fund. Washington, DC: 2020.

3. Juvenile Injustice: Boys, Youth With Disabilities, and LGBTQ Youth

"Boys, youth with disabilities and LGBTQ youth also come into disproportionate contact with juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

"• In 2017, the residential placement rate for boys was more than five times that for girls. Eighty-five percent of children in residential placement were male.10

"• At least 1 in 3 youth in the juvenile justice system has a disability qualifying them for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—nearly four times the rate of youth in public schools. Less than half receive special education services while in custody.11

"• The percent of LGBTQ children in the juvenile justice system (20 percent) is more than two times that of LGBTQ youth in the general population (7-9 percent); 85 percent are children of color.12"

"The State of America's Children 2020," Children's Defense Fund. Washington, DC: 2020.

4. Juvenile Injustice: Trauma and Risk of Abuse

"Once incarcerated, children are at risk of physical and psychological abuse, sexual assault, suicide and other harms, including inadequate educational instruction. The use of solitary confinement further deprives them of social interaction, mental stimulation and key services during a critical time of adolescent brain development. Risks are heightened for children in the adult criminal justice system, which is focused on punishment rather than rehabilitation and treatment. Children in adult jails are more likely to suffer permanent trauma and are five times more likely to die by suicide than children held in juvenile detention centers.13

"We have better choices than incarceration. Diversion, treatment, after school and family support programs support children, keep communities safe and save taxpayer dollars."

"The State of America's Children 2020," Children's Defense Fund. Washington, DC: 2020.

5. Number of Children in the United States

"According to the 2010 census, there were 74.2 million children in the United States, 1.9 million more than in 2000. This number is projected to increase to 87.8 million in 2030. There were approximately equal numbers of children in three age groups: 0–5 (25.5 million), 6–11 (24.3 million), and 12–17 (24.8 million) years of age in 2009 (the latest data year available by age at time of publication)."

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, "America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2011), p. xiv.

6. Effectiveness of Student Drug Testing Compared With Positive School Climate

"The current research reinforces previous conclusions that SDT is a relatively ineffective drug-prevention policy (Goldberg et al., 2007; Sznitman, 2013a; Yamaguchi et al., 2003). On the other hand, interventions that improve school climate may have greater efficacy. Indeed, 'whole school' health promotion efforts and interventions that work with students, teachers, and parents to develop positive school staff–student relationships and promote students’ security have been found to reduce substance use (Bond et al., 2004;
Fletcher et al., 2008).
"Certainly, schools are important as social and learning environments affecting not only academic achievement but also health behaviors. Young people whose relationships with their fellow students and teachers lack respect are more likely to initiate and escalate use of drugs, as evidenced in this and other studies (Fletcher et al., 2008) and to be subject to other mental health problems (Blum and Libbey, 2004; Catalano et al., 2004; LaRusso et al., 2008). Therefore, the potential consequences of poor school climates for young people’s health are far reaching and deserving of attention."

Sharon R. Sznitman, PhD, and Daniel Romer, PhD, "Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates: Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study," Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Vol. 75, No. 1, January 2014.

7. State Policies Regarding Substance Use by Pregnant Women

"24 states and the District of Columbia consider substance use during pregnancy to be child abuse under civil child-welfare statutes, and 3 consider it grounds for civil commitment.

"23 states and the District of Columbia require health care professionals to report suspected prenatal drug use, and 7 states require them to test for prenatal drug exposure if they suspect drug use.

"19 states have either created or funded drug treatment programs specifically targeted to pregnant women, and 17 states and the District of Columbia provide pregnant women with priority access to state-funded drug treatment programs.

"10 states prohibit publicly funded drug treatment programs from discriminating against pregnant women."

Substance Use During Pregnancy. Guttmacher Institute. May 1, 2018. Washington, DC.

8. Children in the US With a Parent Who Has Ever Been Incarcerated

"The increase in U.S. incarceration rates means that a sizable number of children experience parental incarceration. Between 5 million and 8 million children have had a resident parent (most often a father) incarcerated in jail, state prison, or federal prison, and this number excludes children with parents under other forms of correctional supervision such as probation or parole (Murphey & Cooper, 2015). A growing research literature conceptualizes parental incarceration as an adverse childhood experience (ACE) with considerable deleterious consequences for children's wellbeing (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015). Children exposed to parental incarceration, compared to their counterparts not exposed to parental incarceration, experience disadvantages across behavioral, educational, and health outcomes (for reviews, see Foster & Hagan, 2015; Johnson & Easterling, 2012; Murray, Farrington, & Sekol, 2012).

"Importantly, given social inequalities in exposure to criminal justice contact, many children of incarcerated parents are a demographically and socioeconomically disadvantaged group even prior to the experience of parental incarceration. For example, parental incarceration is more common among children of disadvantaged race/ethnic groups; about one-fourth (24%) of Black children and one-tenth (11%) of Hispanic children experience parental incarceration by age 17, compared to 4% of White children (Sykes & Pettit, 2014). Parental incarceration is also concentrated among children living in households with incomes below the poverty line, children of unmarried parents, and children residing in disadvantaged neighborhoods (Foster & Hagan, 2015; Wakefield & Wildeman, 2013)."

Kristin Turney, Adverse childhood experiences among children of incarcerated parents, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 89, 2018, Pages 218-225, ISSN 0190-7409, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chil....

9. Impact of Parental Incarceration on Young Adults

"RESULTS: Positive, significant associations were found between parental incarceration and 8 of 16 health problems (depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, cholesterol, asthma, migraines, HIV/AIDS, and fair/poor health) in adjusted logistic regression models. Those who reported paternal incarceration had increased odds of 8 mental and physical health problems, whereas those who reported maternal incarceration had increased odds of depression. For paternal incarceration, with the exception of HIV/AIDS, larger associations were found for mental health (odds ratios range 1.43–1.72) as compared with physical health (odds ratios range 1.26–1.31) problems. The association between paternal incarceration and HIV/AIDs should be interpreted with caution because of the low sample prevalence of HIV/AIDs."

Rosalyn D. Lee, Xiangming Fang and Feijun Luo, "The Impact of Parental Incarceration on the Physical and Mental Health of Young Adults." Pediatrics 2013;131;e1188; originally published online March 18, 2013; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0627.

10. Importance of Family Dinners in Substance Use Prevention

"Compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to say they expect to try drugs (including marijuana and prescription drugs without a prescription to get high) in the future (17 percent vs. 8 percent)."

"The Importance of Family Dinners VIII: A CASAColumbia White Paper," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (New York, NY: September 2012), p. 7.