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McNair Scholar 2014JaLeesa Wright

JaLeesa Wright is a senior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in family social science and minoring in gender, women, sexuality studies. Her research interests include parental incarceration and incarceration-related experiences. Ms. Wright plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies and licensure in family therapy.

JaLeesa Wright photo
My dream is to enhance the vitality of family systems the world over by servicing those affected by the prison industrial complex. I aspire to unfasten the seat belt tightly strapped to underprivileged communities, for it is my belief that the human experience can be riveting and full of alluring possibilities.

Research project

Exposure to Incarceration-Related Events in a Sample of Children with Jailed Parents

Abstract: The number of parents incarcerated in the United States increased by 79% between 1991 and 2007. According to the Department of Justice, 2.3% of American children are affected by the their parent’s incarceration. Children of incarcerated parents may exhibit behavioral and psychological challenges, including post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of their exposure to incarceration-related events (IREs). Such events include exposure to parents’ criminal activity, court proceedings, and/or arrest. The current study examined the exposure of IREs in a sample of children (aged 3-17 years) with jailed parents. Jailed parents and children’s caregivers were surveyed about children’s exposure to IREs. One in five children witnessed the arrest and one in three witnessed court proceedings. Results show that children were often very upset from exposure these events. Trauma-informed first response systems, including training for arresting officers, may decrease children’s exposure to subsequent traumas and mitigate adverse developmental outcomes. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Dr. Rebecca Shlafer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health) at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Shlafer received her Masters and Bachelors degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shortly after she received her Ph.D. in child psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Her research specialties include parental incarceration and developmental outcomes of at risk children.