Mental health trajectories of children and adolescents in the child welfare system who have mothers involved with the criminal justice system

Keva M Miller, Fordham University

Abstract

Children and adolescents who experience maternal criminal justice involvement are considered an at-risk population; yet, the literature on the impact that this social phenomenon has on children's psycho-emotional and behavioral functioning is primarily conceptual and narrow in scope. Nevertheless, most scholars agree that a mother's involvement with the criminal justice system is a non-normative event that potentially results in childhood mental pathology. This study was designed to test the associations between multi-level factors and internalizing and externalizing functioning of youth who were in the child welfare system and had mothers involved with the criminal justice system. Longitudinal data from the National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) were used for two samples, Child Protective Services Subset N=1614 and Maternal Involvement with the Law N=368. Structural equation modeling procedures were applied to analyze recursive path models. Study results indicated that prospectively, among the Child Protective Services Subset sample, maternal criminal justice involvement was not significantly associated with childhood mental health and this association was not mediated by peer relationships or social skills. Peer relationships and social skills, however, were directly associated with children's mental health such that children who had positive peer relations and prosocial skills exhibited less pathology. Among the Maternal Involvement sample, younger children had more internalizing symptoms. Findings of this study also indicated that the older the child was at the time of involvement and the more distal the timing of involvement, the more internalizing and externalizing symptoms were exhibited in children with criminally offending mothers. ^

Subject Area

Social Work|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Keva M Miller, "Mental health trajectories of children and adolescents in the child welfare system who have mothers involved with the criminal justice system" (January 1, 2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3323286.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3323286

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