Not my crime, still my sentence

Eurochild member COPE's child participation projects gather experiences of children of incarcerated parents

An estimated 2.1 million children are separated from a parent in prison in Europe countries on any given day; 800,000 children in EU-27 + UK. In addition to having to cope with separation from their parent, these children are vulnerable to stigma, instability, poverty and violence

Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) brought together children’s voices in these two recent publications:

Children were asked to choose an article from Council of Europe Recommendation CM/ Rec(2018)5 that was most meaningful to them, write a few words and produce a drawing to explain why they chose this article. The responses have been collated in this document. 

"Sometimes it is cold and we have to wait for a long time at the bus stops. It takes us three hours one way to get there. I feel like I travel through half of Poland to be able to meet my mum.” - Ula, aged 13, Poland

“... It’s not a child’s fault that their parent is in prison so they shouldn’t be the onesthat miss out. I would love to see my parents on my birthday.” - Zac, aged 9, England

“I’m nervous to go to prison to visit if the guards are angry. Prison visits should be made more fun for kids”. - Tinja, aged 7, Finland

Measures and restrictions to limit the spread of the COVID-19 have had a significant impact on children with a parent in prison. With the suspension of in-person visits in prisons and despite measures to facilitate the continuity of the child-parent relationship (notably video-visits), some children did not have face-to-face contact or hug their parent for close to a year. Even when most public restrictions were lifted in summers 2020 and 2021, and people were able to gather in restaurants and go to the cinema, many children were still unable to visit their parent.

"The prison did nothing during the pandemic. My father teaches me well, it helps me morally when I talk to him."
– Mihai, aged, 11 years old, Romania

"I did not get the opportunity to visit my father at all, nor was there a solution in relation to meeting on Skype.” – Boy, aged 15, Norway

"I have always wanted to visit him, always all the time, even during corona, we could have had a screen between us and only hug once." – Boy, aged 8, Romania

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