prisoners in jumpsuits - child

The role of prison staff

Children, like adults, are often influenced by the exaggerated depictions of prison settings seen on television, in films or online.

Often, a single visit to their parent in prison can reassure them that they are alive and well and not being mistreated or neglected. However, it must not be overlooked that the process of visiting an imprisoned parent – a figure usually representing stability and safety to a child – can be a traumatic process. The child’s ideas and images of a daunting and frightening place can have an effect on his experience of the visit.

These preconceptions are exacerbated if the visit is not child-friendly, as is often the case. Imposing gates; the security search process; drugs dogs; stern prison officers; the lack of play area or child-oriented decorations and pictures: all of this can heighten a child’s fears. Child-friendly prison design, regulations and initiatives can help children and parents reconnect.

Further information can be found in the DIHR and COPING reports.

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