Hearing Children’s Voices in Studies of Familial Incarceration: Experiences from a Canadian Study

  • Else Marie KnudsenEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


Within the emerging field of the collateral consequences of incarceration, children of prisoners have become a topic in their own right, with research often focused on these children’s behavioural outcomes, and as a means of exploring the intergenerational transmission of crime. Less attention has been paid to children’s own thoughts and feelings about parental incarceration; academic studies that engage children and youth directly about their experiences are still uncommon. A variety of ethical, methodological and ideological issues help to explain this gap. This chapter describes the state of research into children’s self-reported experiences of parental incarceration and the value of researchers asking children themselves about their experiences. Practical issues, including recruitment, research ethics and creative methodologies, are reviewed. This chapter draws on the experience of a recent qualitative study of Canadian children of prisoners which included interviews with children and youth about their own opinions, beliefs, advice and experience of parental incarceration. Like others, I found that using an approach which centres children’s own voices and values them as competent reporters on their own lives generated rich, useful and unique insights into parental incarceration.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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