Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Grant Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Cooter

Third Advisor

Dr. William Wells


With a univocal number of parents in correctional confinement, children of incarcerated fathers are at risk for negative outcomes ranging from increased family strain to increased behavior problems and unfavorable school outcomes. Prior research suggested these obstacles occurred due to parental incarceration that creates a vulnerable group of children. However, few researchers have analyzed the impact of mentorship for children of incarcerated fathers. Elucidating the effects of mentorship for these children is crucial to changing the life trajectory for children with a history of paternal incarceration.

The current study examined behavioral and school outcomes of children who have and have not experienced paternal incarceration. The goal of the study was to determine whether mentorship is a protective factor for children of incarcerated fathers and if there are gender differences in mentorship outcomes.

The current findings suggest children of incarcerated fathers experience more risks than their counterparts. Nevertheless, when controlling for maternal or peer attachment, adolescents who were previously enrolled in mentorship reported significantly fewer behaviors including: anxious/depressed, aggressive, rule-breaking, and externalizing behaviors. Data also suggests females reported significantly higher internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and less favorable school psychological engagement. Being so, the current study underscores the powerful impact of mentorship and the importance of a supportive adult in the lives of children experiencing paternal incarceration.