Mothers’ Health Following Youth Police Stops

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Research documents that criminal justice contact, such as incarceration, impairs health among family members of those experiencing the contact. Yet little is known about the health consequences of vicarious exposure to another common type of criminal justice contact, police stops. In the present study, we examined the association between youth police stops and mothers' health. We used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a cohort of urban children born around the turn of the 21st century and followed through adolescence (2014 to 2017), to estimate the association between youth police stops and mothers' health (measured by overall health and health limitations). We estimated these associations with propensity score matching, a counterfactual approach that accounts for observed selection into youth police stops. Analyses reveal that youth police stops had deleterious repercussions for mothers' health, net of their health prior to the stop. These health consequences emerged regardless of the frequency or intrusiveness of the stop. The negative association between youth police stops and overall health was larger among mothers of girls than among mothers of boys. Associations were similar across mothers' race/ethnicity and education. Taken together, results show that youth police stops exacerbate health problems among mothers. Given the concentration of police stops among youth of color, these findings highlight the consequences of the criminal justice system for population health inequalities.

Turney, Kristin, and Dylan B. Jackson. 2021. “Mothers’ Health Following Youth Police Contact.” Preventive Medicine 150:106693.