Father Incarceration and Child Development, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

The research paper entitled Beyond Absenteeism: Father Incarceration and Child Development was authored by Amanda Geller, Carey Cooper, Irwin Garfinkel, Ofira Schwartz-Soicher and Ronald Mincy. It was published on Fragile Families Working Paper last July 2010. The paper talked about the impacts of parental imprisonment on the development of children. The authors’ hypotheses were supported by existing studies concerning the same issue. These hypotheses include (1) the disruption of bonds between the parents and children due to mandatory separation leading to affected emotional and social well-being of the children, (2) the incarceration of fathers may affect the development of children through the economic conditions distressing the family, (3) imprisonment of fathers compromise the relationship of children with their parents, and lastly, the authors hypothesized otherwise that (4) the imprisonment of fathers have less or no effect on the development of children.

The authors employed quantitative research using the data from the study conducted by Fragile Family which involved a group of approximately five thousand couples who have kids that were born between the year 1998 and 2000 from the cities of United States. Fragile Family utilized the method of Advocacy or Participatory Approach to Research or also known as Emancipatory. The researchers subjected unmarried parents with children from the urban families. The survey was conducted with both mothers and fathers during the birth of their child and was carried out during the first, third and fifth year of the child. The authors subjected children from families with imprisoned father and those whose father were with them to the study. The output of the study were evaluated with the utilization of multiple regression models such as cross sectional, individual fixed effects, examination of children’s wellbeing pre and post imprisonment and the concentration on the imprisonment of fathers during the third and fifth year of the conducted survey.

The measures that were used include the Paternal Incarceration, Child Development, and Confounding Covariates. The Paternal Incarceration covered not only the reports from fathers but also from mothers and was supported by indirect reports and character data. The data that were gathered revealed that 2,043 fathers were imprisoned prior to their children’s 5th birthday whereas 821 were jailed between the 3rd and 5th birthdays of their children. Problems concerning Child Development were measured by Achenbach and Rescoria’s (2000) Child Behavioral Checklist. The checklist is confirmed by mothers by answering with “not true, somewhat/sometimes true, and often/very true”. The author’s adopted the data from the research conducted by Fragile Families. These data revealed (a=0.82) as the aggression subscale from the total of responses from mothers pertaining to the aggressive behavior of children including their screams, attacks to others, sulks, suspicion, bullying, disobedience observed in school and the likes. On the other hand, a subscale of (a=0.68) was recorded under the internalizing behavioral problems which involved the anxiety and depression of children. For the problems with attention, a subscale of (a=0.56) was revealed considering the children’s lowly schoolwork, confusion during daydream, and acting without discerning.

The authors also measured the Verbal ability of children which was measured using the age-standardized marks included on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary test-revised or PPVT-R. In addition, the health of children were reported by mothers with responses such as “excellent/very good, good, fair, or poor”. The data revealed that children of imprisoned fathers received higher scores on attention and aggression problems and lower scores on verbal ability compared with their friends. Contrasting this, the two distinct groups were vague on statistical measures regarding their internalization and health problems. For the covariates, the first one included the demographic individualities like background of immigrant, race, history of family, impulsivity, and cognitive ability which are all connected by theorists’ to a person’s criminal tendency and activity. Other covariates involved the observation during the time of children’s birth. These include the education, age employment, family background, and behavior of parents.

The impacts comparison was also executed by gender using Greene’s (2003) Chow tests. And lastly, the authors used the sensitivity analysis to test the strength of their findings. Those that achieved significant effects were subjected to falsification test which was a variation used by Kaushal (2007) that helped the authors become certain of their observations. After running the data on different statistical analyses and models, the results covered the effects of imprisonment, the effects of other absences of fathers, and differential effects of paternal imprisonment. The authors found out that imprisonment had an effect on the social and mental health of children. The authors also found out that children whose fathers were imprisoned had attention problems. A placebo test was performed and revealed that unobserved incidences did not affect the results of the study, however, the fixed effect models exposed otherwise. Thus, the authors considered their results as fragile. In addition, it became evident that aggression was more dominant among boys compared with girls. However, both genders had significant scores on the aggression scores during the study.

The author’s study was very beneficial to the families whose fathers have had been imprisoned to help their children correct their social and emotional problems immediately. Likewise, this is a vital research since the numbers of families whose fathers are in prison are increasing in the United States. However, the results of the study were not surprising at all considering the existing literatures about the impacts of broken families and single parenting to the emotional and social development of children. Another weakness of the study is that it only used the data provided by Fragile Families, thus the authors did not have the chance to meet and evaluate the subjects of their study in person. This may suggest that there was lacking on the part of the authors to fully validate the character as well as the behavior of both parents and children. The authors also admitted that the robust assessment revealed that their findings were measurement choice sensitive.

On the other hand, they asserted that their mother reports were reliable. It is recommended that the authors do their own survey so that they could fully observe and evaluate the covariates related on this study. The research was well written and its structure was also easy to comprehend. The authors clearly achieved their goals. However, they had admitted that some results were sensitive to measurements thus it is advisable that when reading and considering this study for a review, back up literatures should also be examined for further validation. Over all, the paper is a good read because it provided a clear discussion which also compared the condition of complete families from the broken ones. Likewise, it can give the reader a better understanding on the character and behavior of children whose fathers are in prison. This will encourage the people around these children to give further understanding and care as well as inspiration to these kids to improve their verbal skills. Lastly, this is a recommended reading for both parents and teachers who play the most important roles during the period of development of a child.

References

Geller, A., Cooper, C.E., Garfinkel, I., Schwartz-Soicher, O., & Mincy, R.B. 2010. Beyond

Absenteeism: Father Incarceration and Child Development. Fragile Families Working

Paper. Web. Retrieved from <http://crcw.princeton.edu/workingpapers/WP09-20-FF.pdf>

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