This video was created by CIP at part of the CTCIP Youth Voice Project. Read more about it below, and visit their website at www.CIPYouthFacts.org.
The Youth Voice Project, conceptualized as a health communication campaign for children with incarcerated parents (CIP), is aimed at the dissemination of health information, coupled with resources which can assist in better health and well-being for this population. The campaign design takes a two-pronged approach – one addressing health, and the other the stigma associated with being a CIP, which has been shown to compound the adverse effects of parental incarceration (Adalist-Estrin 2006).
This research is guided by the data demonstrating the negative short and long-term physical and mental health effects of parental incarceration which is classified as one of the “stressful or traumatic events” falling under the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) categories (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2017). Other ACEs are emotional, physical and sexual abuse, emotional and physical neglect, violent treatment of the mother, household substance abuse, mental illness in the household and parental separation or divorce. The more ACEs present within a child’s life, the more cumulatively damaging these can be to their overall health and well-being throughout their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), ACEs have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and early death. ACEs are also “strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan” including risky health behaviors such as substance abuse (SAMHSA, 2017). This makes CIP more prone to chronic health conditions such as depression, anxiety and high-blood pressure (Wakefield and Wildeman 2014).
In addition to these health concerns, parental incarceration is further considered a unique ACE with a combination of trauma, shame and stigma (Hairston 2007) which may not necessarily be present in the case of other kinds of ACEs. Luther (2016), in a study about the stigma management strategies undertaken by CIP, discusses Goffman’s work on the concept of “spoiled identity”. She states that in the case of CIPs, their identities are co-opted into that of their incarcerated parents’ identity and this results in stigmatization of these children by group association (Goffman 1963). More specifically in this context, Adalist-Estrin (2006) discusses the exacerbation of this stigma through the “conspiracy of silence” as well as the external pressures these children face, resulting in feelings of fear, worry, confusion, sadness, guilt, loyalty conflict/isolation, embarrassment, and anger: They also face a host of potential mental and behavioral health problems (Wakefield and Wildeman 2014) due to both internally and externally stigmatizing factors these children have to cope with on a daily basis. This scholarship combined with the CTCIP Initiative’s guiding principle of combating stigmatization (CIP 2014) against CIP forms the foundation of the Youth Voice outreach and media campaign. The theoretical basis for this campaign draws on the culture-centered approach (CCA), focusing on the community as the expert, based in the paradigm of university-community engagement discussed as the focus of this piece.