December 11, 2009

Mentoring the Children of Prisoners

I was recently invited to speak at a conference about Mentoring the Children of Prisoners. It is being sponsored by MANY, the Mid-Atlantic Network of Youth & Family Services in Pittsburgh, PA. This conference comes out of the sad story about the challenges facing the children who have an incarcerated parent. With more than 5.6 million Americans in prison or who have served time, the U.S has the highest incarceration rate in the world (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). Right now, one in forty children in the U.S. have a parent in prison. In relationship to this huge need for mentoring and support, there are relatively few agencies or programs to help these children. The result is that children of prisoners are among the most at-risk population of children in our country.

Research from the Arizona Children of Prisoners Bill of Rights Project (2007) showed that just in my winter home state of Arizona, there were 175,000 children with parent/s in jail, prison, or on probation. The discussions and focus groups they conducted indicated that these children often lacked food, shelter, clothing, parental guidance, good role models, love, societal acceptance, a basic sense of security, and stability in their lives. The absence of these basic nutrients almost invites a child into a life of crime for survival. Research indicates these children are six times more likely than other children to become incarcerated at some point in their lives.

To learn more about opportunities for man-making with this very needy population contact the Resource Center. They are a provider for the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. The Resource Center's site offers lots of background information, links to related topics, and suggested volunteer opportunities.

You can also just do a Google search on Mentoring the Children of Prisoners in your state and see what comes up. If you want to be on the front lines of man-making, this could be a very good place to begin.

1 comment:

  1. Richard8:30 PM

    Please check out Boys to Men (ages 13 to 18) and Empowered Girls Alliance (ages 13 to 18) as a resource teens.

    "The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react."
    George Bernard Shaw


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