In Germany we are proud of our social system yet there is still a group of children that is not seen, and their problems are rarely being addressed. Approximately 100, 000 children in Germany have a parent in prison (Ref 1.). We stand up for them. We are thriving to make a change for the children of imprisoned parents by helping them gain more visibility and by giving them a voice. We want to give them a fair chance in life to reach their full potential and to be able to feel proud of themselves.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child children have a right to maintain personal relationships with their parent if this is in the best interest of the child (article 9). Our projects aim to help children maintain and nurture this relationship and to make the most of it.
“Bindungsräume” – improving prison visitor rooms in Cologne Prison
Initiated by BAG-S, Bonn and in partnership with Alanus Hochschule, Alfter, we are creating new and more welcoming visitor rooms at prisons for child visits. This initiative is strongly supported by prison directors and staff as it addresses a well-known need to provide a setting where visiting families can meet in an aggression-free, sociable and child-friendly environment. Prison visits are not easy for family members and especially challenging for children who also feel the strain of difficulties within their families. If these visits are unpleasant and provide no space for privacy, children are less likely to visit. However bonding with their father and mother remains important for a child, especially while the parent is in prison as this also helps with re-integration once the parent is released from prison, and helps with the transition back into normal life. Maintaining these family bonds reduces the likelihood of the parents (and children) committing future crimes.
Students of Alanus Hochschule are currently working on amazingly creative ideas to enhance the look and feel of the visitor rooms, to improve communication between prison staff, prisoners and visitors, and to raise public awareness on prison life, especially with regards to the impact on children.
Reaching out to children of prisoners in Dusseldorf "Papa im Knast - Kind wird bestraft"
Through creative workshops formed in partnership with KRASS e.V., we will work with, and help, previously incarcerated fathers in reaching out to their children. More often than not, families are torn apart by the separation caused by parent imprisonment. The aims of these workshops are to help re-establish father-child relationships and to help with their bonding process.
In addition, we help keep children integrated within their home environment and neighborhood while their parents are in prison. We aim to provide them with the chance to meet and exchange daily life experience stories which helps eliminate any stigma attached to their situations. We help them understand that they are not alone, that there are other children in similar situations, and we help them make new friends.
The creative process helps the children to build self-esteem and to realize their inner strength. It also aims at initiating further interest in education and creativity, both of which are important in the development of a child’s life, and in breaking the circle of crime in many families of prisoners.
Policy Work & Cooperation
We are constantly reaching out to political parties and governmental offices to address the needs of these special children and to further improve policies that ensure the rights of a child under German federal and state law.
Morning Tears Deutschland e.V. is also an affiliate member of the “Children of Prisoners Europe” network and we support their campaigns.We believe that only through working together and exchanging experiences and examples of best practices, are we able to improve on the situation for children of prisoners in Europe and globally.
References 1. http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.treffpunkt-nbg.de%2Fbai%2Frat_und_hilfe.html%3Ffile%3Dtl_files%2FPDF%2FBAI%2FCOPING_Webflyer_Jan.pdf&ei=MFuZU7mzM6mr0QX_-IGADA&usg=AFQjCNGCByQc8aybVGWMYjwVclD-CRU8fw&sig2=chM3y5WmS4CUKWEPfyldBw&bvm=bv.68911936,d.bGQ. Retrieved 1st July 2014.
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