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An Exploratory Investigation of Parental Incarceration, Emotional Independence, and Adult Children's Criminal Activity

NCJ Number
Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: 2021 Pages: 151-175
Date Published
25 pages

Using multi-population structural equation modeling and data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (n = 1207), this study explored specific experiences associated with labeling as well as internalizing labels, including experiencing corporal punishment during childhood, criminal arrests during adolescence, and identifying as a troublemaker/partier in young adulthood (measured with reflected appraisals), as potential mechanisms linking parental incarceration and young adults’ offending. 


The analysis assessed whether this association differed by young adults’ level of emotional independence, that is, freedom from the need for parental approval. The study found that parental incarceration indirectly influenced criminal activity, particularly through identification as a troublemaker/partier during young adulthood, but only for those who sought parental approval. Overall, the study concluded that high emotional independence, or not seeking parental approval, may be a protective factor that facilitates intergenerational discontinuities in crime. (Publisher Abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 2021