On a given day in the European Union, an estimated 800,000 children are directly affected by the imprisonment of a parent. This figure rises to 1 million across a year. Across the Council of Europe member states, an estimated 2.1 million children are affected by parental imprisonment on a given day. As Ilina Taneva, Secretary to the Council of Penological Co-operation (PC-CP), put it: “it’s the equivalent of the population of a small country”.

Parental imprisonment can have a dramatic impact on a child. The consequences for those children that are affected can include: feelings of shame and guilt, stigmatisation, discrimination and bullying, social exclusion, financial difficulties, instability at home and attachment issues. The psychological impact can be profound.

The COPE network works to promote the child-parent bond, knowing that when this bond is fostered and protected, the child has a better chance of coping with the situation. Strong child-parent relationships can also be essential in helping the parent reintegrate into the family and community as well as in reducing reoffending.

The network’s values can be found here.

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