Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Smith, Laurie


The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between traditional African-American American parenting and the overrepresentation of African-Americans in America’s jails and prisons. This qualitative study utilized semi-structured interviews of twelve parents who have had a child incarcerated in their adult life to gather data. Study participants were asked their experiences with several traditional happenings, supported by research, in some traditional African-American households. Topics discussed included religion, spanking, and single parenthood. The study found that many of the traditional happenings of African-American parenting occurred within the homes of parents with children who were incarcerated, which supports previous research. Additionally, the study found that negative views of law enforcement officers were held by several participants and passed down to their children. Moreover, the majority of participants believed that race had some bearing on the treatment of their child by law enforcement and the legal system. The findings of the study suggest that there is room for social workers to be more aware of the unique needs of the African-American community and advocacy is necessary for programs and resources to reach this special population. Furthermore, social workers should continue to seek cultural competence and demonstrate racial awareness when working with clients.