A qualitative analysis of disclosure of parental incarceration to children in Singapore – Implications for best practice

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationQualitative Social Work
Online published23 Jun 2020
Publication statusOnline published - 23 Jun 2020


Children are often the unintended victims of incarceration, and are frequently subjected to extreme hardship following the arrest of a parent, but their right to information is always compromised in the name of protection. Disclosure of incarceration can be equally challenging for both the family caregivers and the children. This paper presents the data from interviews about disclosure of incarceration, looking at how 10 caregiver–child dyadic pairs interacted and handled disclosure in the process. Disclosure is taken as a continuous process requiring the caregivers and the children to negotiate and make sense of it, rather than a static, one-off decision. Three dimensions of protection have been identified (i.e., protection from future blame, protection of the child, and protection of the inmate), together with the intent to use the disclosure for educational purposes. Although there was not a case where the children protested having limited or no information, they varied in their responses. A lack of interest in asking for essential information and intentional avoidance of the topic of parent’s incarceration have been observed in some children. Self-regulated submission by the child is a result of many factors, including a tacit demand to acknowledge parental authority and a caring intent not to add to the caregiver’s burdens. This article also highlights implications and recommendations for changing professional practice and policy guidelines to promote children’s rights and their healthy growth amidst the challenges of life.

Research Area(s)

  • Incarceration, disclosure, coping, children, Singapore