A MERSEYSIDE child welfare expert has backed Boris Becker’s wife after she spoke of the impact of the disgraced tennis star’s jailing on his son and loved ones.
Lily Becker, the triple Wimbledon champion’s estranged wife told Piers Morgan that telling their 12-year-old son his father was going to prison was "the hardest thing I ever had to do".
She said her son is "dying" to see his father, and she hopes they can visit him in jail.
Dr Lorna Brookes, senior lecturer in child wellbeing at Liverpool John Moores University said she was pleased Lily had made the comments: “Children and the wider families are the hidden victims of crime and can suffer the brunt of a punishment supposedly directed at the offender.
“Most children love the parent in prison and will miss them and worry about them greatly.
Support for families
Dr Brookes, who has founded Time Matters UK to support children with parents in prison, explained: “Parental imprisonment is a traumatic event. Some will have witnessed the arrest of their parent. Many will be shunned by neighbours and bullied in school.
“Actually a lot of children left behind do wonder whether it was their fault, or whether they could have done something to prevent their parent offending and often blame themselves.
“The main issue they face is being exposed to the constant negative rhetoric that they are likely to become offenders themselves. This is neither supported in current research, nor helpful as children feel written off by society and judged. Yet children pick up on this and start to wonder if everyone believes they are the next generation of prisoners.”
On Merseyside alone, more than 3,000 children have a parent in prison. They are more likely to suffer with poor mental and physical health and die younger. There are currently no statutory support services for these children, who are supported by the voluntary sector.
And she says a key issue, often not talked about is how the crimes are reported in the UK media, particularly the tabloid media.
“Street names and surnames are shared by the press, and children suffer a huge amount of community backlash and become unsafe in their homes.
“Some are ostracized; some have had to move home and have been physically or emotionally attached due to their home address being made public knowledge.
A new initiative by Time-Matters UK, with Liverpool University and Liverpool John Moores University is proposing that a ‘child safe press’ partnership be formed between Merseyside journalists, local authorities, academic and expert practitioners to develop a new code of press ethics that prioritises the wellbeing of children in the reporting of a parent’s crime.
As part of Liverpool’s Child Friendly City agenda, an event on May 18, invites news organisations, individual journalists and child support professionals to progress this agenda.
Children impacted by Parental Imprisonment in Liverpool.
May 18, 2022. LJMU Redmonds Building.
1pm – 1:10am Welcome
1:10am - 1:40am Children and Families with Lived Experience share their challenges and hopes.
1:40am- 2pm - Presentation by Dr Lorna Brookes, Founder of Time-Matters UK and Senior Lecturer in the Liverpool John Moores School of Education
2pm - 2.45pm – Open roundtable discussion with journalists, researchers and leading practitioners in the field.