Special Report: Parents incarceration takes toll on children

COLUMBUS, Ga.- An investigation into the 3 teenagers suspected of murdering a family in Upatoi in January 2016 reveals an important detail of their lives while growing up.

2 of the 3 suspects are not the first in their families to be accused of a crime. The father’s of Jervarceay Tapley and Rufus Burks are both convicted felons.

"So the child in this situation, is in the perfect storm so to speak" said Dr. Ritu Chandra, a pediatrician at Preferred Medical Group.

Doctor Chandra said children growing up with a parent in jail are more likely to find themselves in troubling situations, especially with undiagnosed and untreated social, emotional problems.

"They’re more liable to get into alcohol and tobacco use, more liable to get into gang activity, more liable to indulge in violent crimes, more liable to be jobless, have single parent homes themselves and not be productive members of society so it creates an inter-generational problem" said Dr. Chandra.

Jervarceay’s dad is wanted by police for not registering as a sex offender. Back in 2006, Christopher Williams admitted to inappropriately touching himself in front of 16-year-old girl. Rufus’s dad, Rufus Burks Senior, pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a man in 2007 and is still serving a 15 year probation term. But this does not mean their children were destined to find themselves in similar situations.

"And we sort of see it as, ‘oh they’re doomed’ and we don’t really work towards all the ways we can help rehabilitate them" said Dr. Diana Riser, a child psychologist professor at Columbus State University.

Dr. Riser said if the child has a strong support system while one parent is in jail, you can overcome this hardship. A strong support system may include getting the child therapy and essentially finding the underlying causes of why a child may be acting out, depressed or angry.

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