Date of Conferral





Human Services


Eric Youn


The focus of the present study was on the lack of positive socialization of children affected by parental incarceration. Researchers have indicated the need to broaden the examination of the effects of parental incarceration on children. Mentorship has demonstrated a positive influence for youth who display at-risk behaviors. However, there is little research regarding the effectiveness of mentorship programs for youth who have experienced the negative effects of parental incarceration. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of youth who have completed an individualized mentorship program following parental imprisonment. Flyers were distributed to case managers and program managers of mentorship programs in New Castle County in order to recruit participants ages 18 -24 years who had a parent incarcerated and who had completed a mentorship program. Through individual interviews, 5 participants provided a retrospective account of antisocial behaviors exhibited as the result of parental incarceration, isolation, physical and emotional abuse faced in their youth, and the ways in which mentorship impacted their lives. Interview data were coded based on words that expressed emotion (emotion coding), words that expressed action (action coding), and words that described circumstances (circumstantial coding). This study revealed that, for these 5 participants, mentorship did have a positive impact. Findings further suggested that mentoring be recognized as a more focal strategy to assist youth, researchers, and practitioners in (a) identifying triggers that may lead to adverse responses to parental incarceration and (b) helping youth improve their overall quality of life when exposed to such circumstances.