Hello. The aim of my research is to explore children’s experiences of maternal imprisonment in Scotland. There is very little information about the experiences of the children of prisoners. There has been limited research in Scotland, and very little from the perspectives of the child themselves. A consequence of increasing female imprisonment is that incrementally more children are being affected by maternal imprisonment. This is why it is of particular importance to look at children¹s experiences; because despite not being imprisoned themselves, more of them are experiencing prison, despite best efforts to develop alternatives to female imprisonment. By interviewing children directly it will also fill the gap in the research already conducted, which has been, for the most part, extrapolated from the point of view of the mothers and other caregivers rather than the perspective of the children and allowing them to have a voice. In doing so qualitative methodological approaches (one-to-one interviews) and Visual tools (Talking Mats and Photography) have been selected to engage child participants (between the ages of 5-18) for this research. It will address the limited knowledge about the consequences for children affected by maternal imprisonment and it will provide an insight into an area on which there is little literature in Scotland.
I was wondering if you could give me some advice as I have found access and ethics particularity challenging as agencies have not been engaging as they have concerns about after care for the children should something potentially distressing should arise as a result of taking part in the research. Within my research it will never be a deliberate attempt by the researcher to ask a question that could provoke distress for the participant. I acknowledge that the topic in itself is likely to raise distressing issues, if this happens then appropriate action will be taken. For example an information sheet with details of local sources of support will be given to the participant. There will also be time at the end of the interview for an informal chat/debrief to raise any concerns or questions about the research. In addition, prior to the interview I will have discussed with the participants if they would like to identify a key link person who is able and willing to sit and talk with them if there is anything from the interview has distressed them. This could be a social worker, friend or family member or anyone that the participant feels comfortable talking with. The suggested key link person could be asked to proactively talk to the children and young people about the interview; experiences of the research; taking photographs; and to discuss with them what came from the interview. I have even considered paying for a private councillor and still this is not enough for some of the organisations.
So I was wondering if you had any advice, guidance or direction to where I might find information on what is deem appropriate support/ after care for children involved in sensitive research? Sorry for the long winded e-mail.