We often hear from families where their children have been told that their loved one is “working away”. However, keeping this story going can be difficult to maintain for long, especially if you want your child to visit their loved one – once children learn to read, they will be able to understand the signs saying that they are in a prison.

Children may also know the truth and feel they have to “go along” with the story because otherwise they will be in trouble – this can create feelings of worry for the child.

“At first I tried to pretend this was college I was at. But one day my daughter said she wanted the TV on during visit and I said we weren’t allowed. So she said “Can’t you ask the officers?”. I’d always called them teachers and she looked really ashamed of letting it out and I realised she knew this was a prison. I was amazed how she’d picked it up – she’s only five!” (Mother in prison)

A cover story may work for a time, but it is better if you, as their mother, father or other close relative can decide who tells what, when and how, in the best way possible to help your child feel safe and to help them maintain their trust in adults.