Sussex Prisoners' Families
Sussex Prisoners' Families: 01273 499843
Prisoners’ Families Helpline: 0808 808 2003

Children are affected in many different ways when a loved-one is sent to prison. These resources can help you discuss the issues with them.

Advice book for children with a parent in prison.

This is a book for children with a close family member in prison. 

PSS are a Liverpool based social enterprise that supports people to live happy, healthy and hopeful lives.

This is an advice book for children with a parent in prison written alongside children supported by our Prisoner’ Families service. 

Telling the Children

Should I tell the children?

This is a tough decision and it is your choice. But our experience tells us that children cope better if they know the truth.


But won’t the truth upset them? 

Children will usually know that something is wrong. Not telling them the truth could make them feel more insecure and anxious. It could also make them feel they can’t trust adults around them.


What are the advantages of telling them?
Telling children the truth means that they can ask questions about what prison is like and talk about other things that are bothering them. 

If they can’t speak openly and honestly, it’s hard for them to process their feelings and they may feel more troubled.

Social media means that news can spread very quickly and your children may find out from someone else. 


How should I talk to children?

  • Find a time that is quiet when you are feeling calm and when they will have plenty of time to ask questions. 
  • Talk somewhere familiar where they feel safe
  • Sometimes it’s easier to talk when you are doing something together like colouring in or drawing. 
  • Be guided by them. If they seem to have stopped listening or don’t want to hear anymore – don’t force the issue. 


What should I tell them?

It very much depends on the age of the child and the type of offence. But here’s some ideas:

  • Use simple, age appropriate language that they understand
  • Explain that their parent or loved-one has made a mistake and done something wrong.
  • Explain that they have had to go away for a while to a prison 
  • You could say that a prison is where grown ups go when they have done something wrong.
  • Tell them that doing something bad doesn’t mean you are a bad person. 
  • Let them know that there is no particular way they should feel. 
  • Don’t go into inappropriate detail – they don’t need to know every detail of the crime.
  • Reassure them that the person in prison still loves them
  • Reassure them that they are safe. 

Want to know more?

Contact one of our friendly outreach team on 01273 499843 who will help you talk through these issues.

Should I tell the children about prison?

This is a tough call but in our experience, children in the long run benefit from being told the truth. Watch our video for some ideas on how to do this or click on the box below for more tips.
You can always talk this through with one of our friendly outreach workers on 01273 499843.


Locked Out 

This booklet runs through some ideas about how to talk to children about prison, as well as giving some ideas of activities you can do together. 

You can download it here. 

Parents in Prison 

This web page for older children has some useful tips and videos for young people with a parent in prison.


You can view it here


Sesame Street

This excellent set of resources, worksheets and videos is based on the popular children’s television series. It is American so not all the details will be relevant but the emotional issues will be the same.

You can view it here 



This booklet for 4 – 11 year olds, tells the story of a young brother and sister whose father is in prison


You can view it here