Symbiotic harms of imprisonment and the effect on children’s right to family life: Comparing the Impact of COVID-19 prison visiting restrictions in the UK and Australia

Shona Minson, Catherine Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Measures taken by governments to address covid-19 in prisons, have impacted significantly on the lives and rights of children. There has been consequential interference with children’s rights to family life and to contact with a parent from whom they have been separated. Since the onset of the pandemic, prisoners in many jurisdictions have lived under restricted regimes with almost universal bans on family visits. Children have not had face-to-face contact with their imprisoned parents, and alternate forms of contact have not always been available to them. Using survey and interview data collected during lockdowns in the UK and Australia, we consider the implications of the interference with the rights of children with an imprisoned parent. Focusing on their relationships, health and wellbeing and using the concept of symbiotic harms, we note how children’s experiences of the cessation of contact interacted with parents’ and caregivers’ experiences, amplifying the harms to children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-325
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Children's Rights
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Parental imprisonment
  • Prison
  • Prisoners’ families
  • Right to family life
  • Symbiotic harms
  • Visiting contact

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