Getty/Fiona Goodall

On Thursday, The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, DC, released a report on the effects of incarcerated parents on black children—and, surprise, it’s pretty horrible.

The report points out that one in four black children have a parent who is currently incarcerated or has been at some point, and one in 10 black children have a parent who is presently incarcerated. By 14 years old, a quarter of black children will have had a parent incarcerated, compared to only 4% of white students the same age.

Other statistics are just as staggering.

Seventy-two percent of black children with incarcerated fathers are more likely than other students to suffer from PTSD and 51% are more likely to suffer from anxiety. Black children with either parent incarcerated have higher rates of depression, ADHD, and behavioral problems, the report says.

Economic Policy Institute

Black Americans are incarcerated at a much higher rate than their white counterparts. And it's not because black people are more likely to be criminals—it's because they're more likely to be criminalized. For example, though both races use marijuana at roughly the same amount, black Americans are punished for it at a much higher rate than whites.

Economic Policy Institute

On a phone call with reporters, the paper’s author, Richard Rothstein, said he hoped that teachers would use the findings to advocate for more help and changes in the classroom.


Collier Meyerson is a reporter at Fusion with a focus on race and politics. She lives in Brooklyn.