While there are programs for parents who have been incarcerated to deal with becoming a parent after incarceration, there are few programs for children to deal with the issue of having incarcerated parents. Big Brothers Big Sisters is among one of the programs nationally that deal with finding appropriate mentors for children who have had parents who were incarcerated, or who are currently incarcerated. Children with parents who were/are incarcerated are more at risk for being incarcerated than children without parents who are/were incarcerated. Big Brothers Big Sisters promises children a special friend they can talk to about any issue they feel like they have, without having to feel the threat of somebody not keeping their secrets. While mentors are required to report to the case workers if any “secrets” may lead to the child being hurt in any way, the relationship between the “big” and “little” is completely confidential, allowing children to truly open up. The programs consists of treating your “little” as if she/he were truly your little brother or sister and basically completing normal daily activities with your little. Educational trips, such as college scouting or museums, can be of some of the places appropriate to take your little, as well as lunch trips or walks in a park. The program has showed positive effects for children involved in it. In a study conducted of 1,138 youth, they were 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs, they skipped school days fewer times than the past year, and they had a marginally significant positive impact on their GPA’s. The program allows children to be able to talk to an adult that they can look up to, open up to, and trust.
Amanda, GMU Intern at Friends of Guest House