Howard University Graduate School

HUGS Research Magazine
and Graduate School Research Archive


Experiences of Children of Incarcerated Parents

Interview with Professor Bahiyyah M. Muhammad, Ph.D.

Dr. Bahiyyah M. Muhammad is Assistant Professor of Criminology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Howard University

Bahiyyah M. Muhammad
Professor Bahiyyah M. Muhammad, Ph.D.

Q: Why did you decide to conduct research on the achievements of children of incarcerated parents?
A: The current study about the achievements of children of the incarcerated is an extension of an ethnographic study titled "Exploring the Silence Among Children of Prisoners" (Muhammad, 2011), in which I identified the experiences and perceptions of young urban children of the incarcerated through semi-structured interviews. These data were collected from a sample of 57 child participants, aged 7-18 years, who resided in New Jersey and who were recruited from local community organizations.

The findings indicated that children's experiences were different than what others described them to be. These children disclosed both negative and positive effects of parental imprisonment. Among the positive experiences were comfort in their foster care placements and with their grandparents, new opportunities in new schools, and improved communication with their incarcerated parent. The ability of these young children to identify positive apects of parental imprisonment, during their experience of it, was telling of their character.

The positivity, strength and respect portrayed by the children during interviews was my evidence of the power these children held. The voices and perspectives of the children led to my commitment to conduct this study to highlight the resilency and success among children of incarcerated parents.


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