Not my crime, still my sentence: Across Europe, some 2.1 million children have a parent in prison. They suffer emotional, social and economic difficulties and need targeted support. Regular contact with a parent in prison promotes resilience in children. Our teams accompany children on prison visits; provide advice and psychological support; train prison staff; listen to young people. We raise awareness in communities and schools and support the rights and needs of these hard-to-reach children.
The 2.1m children with a parent in prison in Europe can feel abandoned, isolated at school, disconnected from peers. Without support, they are vulnerable to exclusion, bullying, shame, and can feel like they're the only person in the world experiencing this. They learn to mask their emotions, retreat into themselves and often don't dare ask for support. Many lose touch with their parent; those who do visit can feel inhibited by the hostile prison setting and communication can break down.
Support initiatives for these children are lacking. We work with people who have a direct impact on their lives (e.g., teachers, prison staff, police) to help them meet their needs. Teachers can reduce bullying and discrimination, prisons can reduce violence and hostility for kids visiting parents, police can protect children during a parent's violence arrest. But they need to know how. We reach out to them to ensure kids remain protected and connected, and get the support they need.
With targeted support, prisoners' children show greater resilience; are less likely to go to prison themselves; and have a healthier relationship with both parents. Through our work, we can reach the 2.1 million children impacted across Europe and foster preventive nurturing with long-term effects, helping them live healthy, positive lives and reach their full potential. Raising awareness is the first step in changing attitudes; changing attitudes is the first step in changing lives.