Absent parents

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Having both a mother and father actively involved in a child's life is critical to their development. But for some children, especially those who have a parent in prison, the basic family unit is not complete.

Statistics show that children whose parents are incarcerated make up more than 2 percent of the U.S. population, and unfortunately for the past two decades the figures have trended upward.

According to a Justice Department report, between 1991 and midyear 2007 there was a 79 percent increase in parents in state and federal prisons. At that point in 2007 there were almost 810,000 prisoners in the U.S. who were parents of minor children.

While many children have a parent in prison, the reasons behind many broken families go beyond the legal realm. Between divorce, parental absenteeism and the physical loss of a parent, there are many more children lacking both a mother and father in their lives.

While there's little question that keeping the basic family unit intact is of utmost importance, we realize due to the reasons listed this does not always happen. And when it doesn't, groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters, among others, often step up to the plate.

For these children, having a mentor in their lives can go a long way toward reversing the trend of parents in prisons and helping them achieve the dreams and goals they have.

Thank you to all the mentors who graciously volunteer their time, and we encourage other groups to find ways that they too can get involved.

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