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The Social Games against Crime project

 

Today, there are 4000 prisoners in Denmark. All of them have families – and most of them have children living outside the prison walls. According to Statistics Denmark 3% of all Danish children have at some point in their life experienced the imprisonment of a parent. At any point in time around 4,500 children have a mother or father in prison. This may have a damaging effect on their development. The children have for instance difficulties learning in school, building social relationships, and many suffer from insomnia, loss of appetite, mental health problems, depression, anxiety and the experience of being stigmatized as different. The risk that they end up in prison themselves is estimated to be three times higher than for other children.

 

The overall aim of the Social Games against Crime project (SAC) is to develop, implement and test a new kind of serious games called ‘social games’ which are designed specifically for the sake of helping children to build resilience towards many of the adverse personal and social problems they experience as a result of their father being imprisoned. Resilience capabilities are essential for improving children’s subjective well-being and to prevent them from getting into crime.

 

Children from the age of 11-18 will be our primary target group, because there exist only few initiatives in Denmark helping them to cope with parental incarceration. And those, which exist, have not been subjected to empirical study of their beneficial effects and value. Hence, professionals, social practitioners and researchers are left unsure concerning their effects.

 

The SAC project is based on the assumption that social games have a hitherto unexplored and innovative potential for helping children and adolescents between 11-18 to maintain and build social relationships with their imprisoned fathers. Drawing upon social science research as well as adolescent and child psychology, we further hypothesize that the maintenance of social relationships is central for increasing children’s ability to build up resilience in the long run.

 

Project period: 2015-2018.