How the Support for Children (Impact of Parental Imprisonment) Bill could help enhance the rights of children with a parent in prison

Category: Children of prisoners

11th March 2015

An informative new article on Together's blog written by Nicki Wray (Barnardo's Scotland) highlights the vulnerabilities of children affected by parental imprisonment and how a new Bill has the potential to enhance and further their rights.

The blog notes the experiences of Barnardo's staff working with children with a parent in prison, who have cited issues for these children such as confusion, isolation, stigma, secrecy, social exclusion, poverty, loss, bereavement and trauma. These experiences reflect the international literature on children affected by parental imprisonment and highlight for Barnardo's just how significant an issue this is within its own services.

The blog highlights that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child states that the best interests of the child must be a paramount consideration; it states that children have a right to be listened to and taken seriously; it states the right of children to protection, an education, healthcare and a family life. In its concluding observations in 2014 the UN stated that state parties should ensure support to children with one or both parents in prison.

Outlined in the blog are the systems and structures currently in place to support the welfare of families and children in justice processes. But to date the blog highlights that there is still a lack of joined up thinking when it comes to children with a parent in prison, and that all too often they fall between the cracks of services or aren't noticed at all.

Nicki highlights that Labour MSP Mary Fee has launched a consultation on her proposed Support for Children (Impact of Parental Imprisonment) Bill. Nicki concludes the blog by stating that this group of children have flown under the radar for too long and that this Bill has the potential to stop them from slipping through the gaps in statutory services.

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