Casualties of context? Risk of cognitive, behavioral and physical health difficulties among children living in high-incarceration neighborhoods

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Aim We examined if residence in high-incarceration neighborhoods is associated with risk of cognitive, behavioral and physical health problems for young children net of individual-level parental incarceration status. Subjects and methods We used regression analysis and linked data from Year 9 of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and zip code level information on neighborhood prison admission rates from Justice Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections in 2008. Results Neighborhood incarceration rates appear to have some independent and negative associations with child cognitive outcomes. For behavioral outcomes, individual-level parental incarceration appears to be the most meaningful. For child physical health outcomes as indicated by BMI percentages and overall good health, neither neighborhood incarceration rates nor individual-level parental incarceration experiences show persistent significant associations. Living in a neighborhood with high incarceration may threaten children’s health and wellbeing, suggesting that mass incarceration feeds into a system of inequality that extends beyond those who experience individual-level parental incarceration by exerting a broader public health impact.

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