Social Effects of Parent Incarceration on Children

According to Canada’s Federal Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, the criminal justice reform bill is geared towards protecting the vulnerable people in society. In addition, it contributes to the realization of an important culture shift in the way criminal justice systems function in Canada. However, despite the attention, public policy fails at attending to the social needs of families whose members have been incarcerated or put in preventive detention. There are tens of thousands of children living without their parents in Canada. They face a lot of stigma and are forced to remain silent throughout their lives due to shame.

Such children face major emotional, psychological, financial and social difficulties. These challenges are yet to be addressed by those in politics and remain invisible when it comes to social policy. There are currently no public policies that guide on how these children should be supported. Sentencing principles also remain silent on the effect of the separation between children and parents who have been convicted. There is need to collect and collate national statistics regarding these children in Canada. It is possible that such information is already available at some institutions. However, it has not been availed to the public yet. It may provide insights on how these children can be taken care of. It is also necessary to include children of offenders in conversations revolving around criminal justice reform.

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