Children of Incarcerated Parents: Developmental Trajectories of Externalizing Behavior Across Adolescence

Jean Kjellstrand, Gary Yu, J. Mark Eddy, Charles R. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growth mixture modeling was used to identify distinct trajectories of externalizing behavior for youth (N = 647) across the period 10 to 16 years of age. Four trajectory classes were identified: Low-Stable, Mid-Increasing, Borderline-Stable, and Chronic-High. Relations of the identified trajectories with parental incarceration, parent–child relationships, trauma, and parenting as well as future substance use and criminality were then examined. Children of incarcerated parents were underrepresented in the Low-Stable trajectory and overrepresented in the Mid-Increasing group. However, nearly 60% of the children of incarcerated parents were best represented by the low-risk trajectory. The trajectory classes differed significantly on many of the preadolescent measures, such as parent–child relationships and trauma, as well as on adolescent delinquency, adult criminality, and substance use. The Mid-Increasing, Borderline-Stable, and Chronic-High trajectory groups showed significantly higher levels of early risk factors and problematic outcomes than the Low-Stable trajectory group. Implications for practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1742-1761
Number of pages20
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • children
  • externalizing
  • growth trajectories
  • parental incarceration
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Children of Incarcerated Parents: Developmental Trajectories of Externalizing Behavior Across Adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this