After the arrest of a family member answering children’s questions honestly is an important part of helping them feel safe and secure. This is a confusing time for everyone. Children’s questions help adults understand their concerns. These are valid and need to be addressed promptly to meet their emotional needs.
Big Brother Big Sister have put together a wonderful resource to address the many questions children of all ages will have.
Even if you don’t have a child, this is an excellent guide to the criminal justice system in Ohio. Many of the questions are ones an adult may have as well. It has a wealth of information covering everything from arrest to release. It also includes information on writing letters, along with addresses and phone numbers of various prisons, parole boards and other department of corrections information.
It is a must read for anyone hoping to strengthen bonds and create connections with loved ones in prison. Click to read.
For the initial simple, but important questions Sesame Street’s “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” book suggests these answers:
Q: “Where’s my Daddy?”
A: If the parent has been convicted: “Daddy is in a placed called prison for a while. Grown-ups sometimes go to prison when they break a rule called a law. He is not there because of anything you did. This is not your fault.”
Q: “When will Mommy be home?”
A: Mommy wont be home for a while. We are waiting for more information. I will let you know as soon as I find out.”
Q: Will I get to see Daddy?
A: If your child can visit: You can visit Daddy in prison once in a while. I’ll let you know when. Between visits you can write him letters, draw him pictures, and talk to him on the phone.”
If your child will not be able to visit: We won’t be able to visit, but you can draw pictures and write letters to each other whenever you want.” If there are legal reasons why contact is not allowed. It is important to follow that advice.
Parents Behind Bars: Children Of Incarcerated Family Members. Answers to children’s difficult questions. Published by the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission