Communicating with young children about police, arrest, and incarceration: Black mothers' perspectives
The current Grounded Theory study sought to develop a theory of how low-income Black mothers in the greater New Orleans area choose to communicate with their young children about police, arrest and incarceration (PAI). Parental arrest affects the lives of a significant portion of young children in the United States, and disproportionately impacts the lives of Black families, families living in poverty, and families in the Southern part of the U.S. Despite this prevalence, little research has examined what and how parents choose to communicate with their young children about their experiences with the criminal justice system and how they arrive at these decisions within the context of their lived experiences. Working from an intersectional feminist and ecological systems frame, this study used multi-stage coding of interviews with seventeen mothers, all of whom had a child between 3-7 years old, identified as Black or African American, lived in the greater New Orleans area, and had incomes near or below the poverty line, to develop a theory of maternal communication choices about PAI. The theory elucidated a 7-theme model composed of a three-step decision-making process contained within four contextualizing and intersecting themes relating to maternal identity, environment, and experiences. This model expands the body of reserach on parenting in the context of arrest, provides a framework for more grounded and culturally appropriate clinical support to families who have been impacted by arrest, and informs potential policy changes aimed at diminishing the injustices and hurt inflicted on families by the current criminal justice system.