The Children of Prisoners: Interventions and Mitigations to Strengthen Mental Health (COPING) project is the Children of Prisoners Europe network’s major accomplishment to date.
From January 2010 – 2012, the EU-research study co-founded by the EU Commission was a child-centred project, which investigated the resilience and vulnerability to mental health problems of children of imprisoned parents. It was the first time that a study of its size focused on the resilience and vulnerability of children of imprisoned parents throughout Europe.
The study covered 4 countries: Sweden, Romania, Germany and the UK. COPING research findings are aimed towards implementing European and international public policies in the view of enhancing the welfare of children. Support for children in accessing prisons and participating in prison visits, for example, is highly needed since only non-governmental organisations (NGOs) provide such services. Moreover these methods vary greatly from one country to another. Often, imprisoned parents need assistance in communicating with their children within the prison environment as such a setting can create tension and anxiety within both parties.
The COPING project interviewed over 200 children with imprisoned parents in each country using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, to ascertain coping strategies and mental health problems for these young people, which were then compared with normative population samples. Smaller groups of children and parents were involved in in-depth qualitative interviews to explore the impact of parental imprisonment and support services available in greater detail. Interventions to support these families were comprehensively mapped throughout Europe by the research staff.
Children of Prisoners Europe (at that time Eurochips) participated in the project as a Pan-European umbrella organisation. Our mission consisted in disseminating information and prospecting further alliances to enhance the research. COPE Member Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), based in Switzerland, ensured that the findings had maximum impact on public policies by presenting the research at the UN level.
The study was spearheaded by a consortium of ten member organisations, comprising two from each country where the research was conducted. Each country group comprised a research institution and an NGO working with prisoners and their families.
In addition, the project had its own patron: Pr. Sir Patrick Stewart, Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield and internationally renowned actor, Stewart used his own childhood personal experience with domestic violence to campaign against this crime.
The project culminated in the end-of-project-conference entitled Coping with a Parent in Prison: An Agenda for Policy Reform in Brussels 2012. Children of Prisoners Europe organised the conference, with over 120 delegates in attendance, including key policy makers and practitioners. Learn more about the conference here, where you will find the full conference outcome report.
To the left you will find the archived news articles from the duration of the project.
Read the COPING Project Final Report.
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