PARENT IN PRISON
What is it?
When a parent or carer of a child is imprisoned. They might be in prison for a day, a week or several months or years. The prisons may be many miles away from the child, or even across the country. Children may be able to visit the parent in prison, but sometimes this isn’t possible due to travel issues.
HOW MANY CHILDREN DOES THIS AFFECT?
Is it estimated that 200,000 children are affected by parental imprisonment across England and Wales.
What could the child/young person feel like?
Some children may not be told that their parent is in prison so experience a huge sense of confusion and loss. For children who know that their parent is in prison, many children are shocked and experience shame and guilt when their parent is arrested. They are likely to feel confused and worried about what will happen next and not know who to talk to. They may feel a sense of responsibility about their parent not being available. All areas of life are affected and children may need to move home.
What are the worst things we could do?
The child may or may not be aware of the situation and may not know when they will see their parent again so it’s important not to speculate about the reasons for the arrest or imprisonment in front of the child or parent or with the child nearby.
Don’t place blame upon the child that in some way it was their ‘fault' or assume that the whole family was involved in the alleged crime, or joke that the child is ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’.
What are the most helpful things we can do?
Let the child have fun and use calm voices around the child – they may be used to lots of professionals talking in formal settings.
Create an environment where the child is able to play, talk to friends and feel safe with fun adult role models.
Offers of practical help to the parent/carer of helping to clean their home if it has been raided.
LET THE CHILD HAVE FUN AND USE CALM VOICES AROUND THE CHILD - THEY MAY BE USED TO LOTS OF PROFESSIONALS TALKING IN FORMAL SETTINGS
Where to find more info or help
A website providing lots of information leaflets for families affected by parental imprisonment.
A national charity providing support to prisoners, people with convictions and their families through a wide range of service including a children’s play services in some prison visits halls and a national helpline.
This is a specialist trauma recovery charity set up to enable children and young people aged 3-24 years to have access to specialised trauma therapy. It has five centres in Bath, Bristol, Bradford, Guernsey and Oxford