The Arrest of Parents through the Eyes of Children, Police and Social Services

  • Peter Scharff Smith
  • Janne Jakobsen
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


When children tell their stories, it is easy to understand that the arrest of a parent can leave deep traces. One 18-year-old Danish girl, for example, describes the arrest of her father as the worst day in her life.1 This chapter discusses some of the few available studies about children’s reactions to parental arrests. The chapter is primarily based on Danish empirical data on how police handle the arrests of parents, and how the arrests can be experienced by and affect the arrested parents’ children.


Police Officer Police Academy Social Report Social Authority Danish Institute 
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  1. 2.
    Carolus van Nijnatten, Detention and Development: Perspectives of Children of Prisoners (Mönchengladbach: Forum Verlag Godesberg, 1998), 82. Also quoted in Codd (2008, 65).Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    S. D. Phillips, “Programming for Children of Female Offenders”, proceedings from 4th National Head Start Research Conference, Washington, DC, 1998, quoted from The Osborne Association, A Call to Action: A Report of the New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents, May 2011, 17.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    S. D. Phillips and J. Zhao, “The Relationship between Witnessing Arrests and Elevated Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress: Findings from a National Study of Children Involved in the Child Welfare System”, Children and Youth Services Review 32, no.10 (2010), 1246–1254.Google Scholar
  4. See also Jane A. Siegel, Disrupted Childhoods: Children of Women in Prison (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011), 90.Google Scholar
  5. 36.
    Tanya Krupat, Elizabeth Gaynes and Yali Lincroft, A Call to Action: Safeguarding New York’s Children of Incarcerated Parents (New York: The Osborne Association, May 2011), 18.Google Scholar
  6. 41.
    See the Police Academy’s textbook on the subject (psychology): Ibsen Bjarne Frøslee et al., Politipsykologi: En grundbog (Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2008), 105–116. The chapter concerns neglect and assault of children and pages 113–116 discuss specific circumstances for notification of the social authorities. Moreover, the individual teachers use their own teaching materials. In the subject of police theory, the theme is included under different topics: on reports (PG1), domestic disturbances (where the social report is explicitly handled) as well as in Police Theory IV, which concerns children and youngsters. Source: The Police Academy and the Communications Division, National Police.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter Scharff Smith and Janne Jakobsen 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Scharff Smith
  • Janne Jakobsen

There are no affiliations available

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