The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges state parties to undertake all necessary legal, administrative, education and other measures to provide fulfillment of all rights from the Convention for every child. The children whose parents are imprisoned are still the children.
For this reason, the European network of organizations, Children of prisoners Europe - COPE, started the campaign „Not my crime, still my sentence" in the beginning of June. The goal of the campaign which has been implemented for the last six years is to improve living conditions for children whose parents are in prison and to raise awareness of the society about their needs and rights. The campaign was limited to the European week of children of prisoners for couple of years, but from the last year it covers entire month of June.
The estimated number of children of prisoners in 47 European countries is 2,1 mil. According to the information from the Republic of Srpska, the number is 425 children, mainly under 10 years old, with slightly higher number of boys.
The need to identify this category of children derives from the fact that they have been under many harmful influences. The consequences do not last only when the parent leaves to prison, but during the entire stay in the prison and after that.
The separation from the parent who is in prison can cause, according to the experts, different emotional reactions of children. Some of them are confusion, anger, sense of abandonment, low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, insomnia, unhealthy nutrition, behavioral problems, aggression. These manifestations depend on the age of the child, the relations in the family before and after one parent was imprisoned, how long was the punishment and what was the crime committed.
That is why is of particular importance to identify this category of children as especially vulnerable group of children. It is also important to speak out together with experts about these children in order to find adequate solutions for their problems and influence consequences of the situation on the children of prisoners.