Danish researchers are developing boardgames that can help strengthen the relationship between children and their fathers who are in prison.
The Social Games against Crime project is financially supported by the Danish foundation TrygFonden and will run until 2018.
The project is specifically designed for children aged 11-18 and helps them build resilience towards personal and social problems they might experience as a result of their parent – most frequently their father – being in prison.
Forgotten victims of crime
Children of imprisoned parents often feel isolated and have difficulty forming social relationships and concentrating at school, suffering from the likes of insomnia, depression, mental problems and anxiety, explains Thomas Markussen, a lecturer at University of Southern Denmark involved in the project.
“Children are often called the forgotten victims of crime because there is generally not enough done to ensure they are not going to pay too high a price for their parents’ actions,” Adele Jones, a professor at the University of Huddersfield who is one of the world’s leading researchers on children with parents in prison, told magazine Videnskab.
In Denmark, there are at any point in time around 4,500 children who have either a mother or father in prison, and Statistics Denmark estimates 3 percent of all Danish children will at some point in their life experience the imprisonment of a parent.
Visits to prisons are limited to 75 minutes a week, but children who come from afar can get up to three hours of visiting time. In some cases, families can stay at specially established accommodations and visit their imprisoned relatives for up to 48 hours.
The first game, ‘Fængslet’ (‘prison’), addresses the imprisoned parent’s situation in an entertaining way.
It is designed a bit like Monopoly, but instead of moving around in a city, players move around in a prison with inmates and staff.