The impact of contextual family risks on prisoners' children's behavioural outcomes and the potential protective role of family functioning moderators

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© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Abstract: Research suggests that children of prisoners have an increased risk for behavioural and emotional problems. However, in a resilience approach, one should expect heterogeneous outcomes and thus apply a contextualized perspective. As this is rarely acknowledged in empirical research, the present study sought to fill this gap using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study on 801 children of imprisoned fathers. We explored the extent to which cumulative family risks measured during the first year of life (e.g., poverty and mental health problems) predicted behavioural outcomes at age 9 and whether potentially protective aspects of family functioning moderated the impact of these risk factors. Cumulative risk significantly predicted behavioural outcomes, but the associations were weak. No strong evidence of moderation was found. At low risk, mother–child closeness moderated behavioural outcomes. There was also some evidence of moderation by accumulated protective factors. Potential implications for policy and practice and challenges for further research are discussed.




Markson, L., Lamb, M. E., & Lösel, F. (2016). The impact of contextual family risks on prisoners’ children’s behavioural outcomes and the potential protective role of family functioning moderators. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13(3), 325–340.

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