An epidemic is the rapid spread of disease to a large number of hosts in a given population within a short period of time. For example, in meningococcal infections, an attack rate in excess of 15 cases per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks is considered an epidemic.
McapMediaWire – A recent National Institute of Corrections report states 1 in 50 American children will have a parent in prison in their lifetime. With approximately one and a quarter million adults currently living behind bars in the United States, that figure isn’t likely to decrease any time soon.
Minnesota District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel knows too well what happens when a child loses a parent to prison. “I am bound to follow the law, but it’s absolutely crushing when I send a mother, father, or even an older sibling away because I understand the ramifications it will have on the family dynamic, especially the children.”
Krehbiel adds that children who lack a mentor or don’t get proper therapy when a parent is absent are twice as likely to end up on the wrong side of her bench down the road. “We need all the help we can get to intervene with this vulnerable population.”
A new book series aims to do just that. It’s an innovative trilogy of books written specifically for young children of the incarcerated. Author Rachel Nee-Hall says she hopes a simple parenting tactic shared by cute animal characters will help explain a difficult situation in an age-appropriate way.
An award-winning television producer, Nee-Hall was inspired to write Daddy’s Time Out, Mama’s Time Out, and Peanut’s Time Out from personal experience after accompanying a friend who was taking her children to see their father in prison. “There I was sitting in the prison lobby with this little boy who was upset and confused. When I looked around for a book or pamphlet to advise me how to comfort him, there wasn’t any.”
So, the Los Angeles mother of two decided to write them. “It wasn’t rocket science, but there was a need for these specific books for this demographic.”
Child psychologist Ruth Cowen agrees. In her practice located near a California prison, she works primarily with children of incarcerated parents. Cowen says children have trouble processing their feelings, especially face to face with an adult.
“There weren’t any books like this out there. These are valuable tools for parents, social workers, therapists, and numerous others. Cowen believes the animal characters help unravel mixed feelings and allow them to process information to find stability and understanding.
Lisa Fernandez, a therapist in the Ohio state prison system, calls the books a must-read for children. “It’s difficult to convince a child that it’s not their fault when a parent goes away, and as important, that the parent still loves them. These stories illustrate that perfectly.”
Nee-Hall says the books have an interactive nature to them. The characters engage the child and ask the questions; the adult reader is merely the intermediary. Suzanne Tuttle, a licensed social worker, says the approach is less intimidating for the child. “These books are perfect. I love how simple, supportive, and normalising these stories are.”
Nee-Hall stresses the subject matter steers clear of politics and the vast division regarding incarceration in America. “I am not here to comment on policy. I just hope these books can help the millions of children out there dealing with the confusion of their current circumstances.”
Rachel Nee-Hall has been producing and directing television in Los Angeles for two decades. She is the founder of Silky Pants Productions, Inc. Daddy’s, Mama’s, and Peanut’s Time Out books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and select bookstores.
Daddy’s Time Out: https://amzn.to/3ioRBV7
Mama’s Time Out: https://amzn.to/3kxhpkr
Peanut’s Time Out: https://amzn.to/3zepEpF